.- The Ugandan army has accused rebels of setting fire to a crowded Catholic church in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, with some churchgoers being killed.
Army spokesman Capt. Ronald Kakurungo said Ugandan troops on a joint anti-rebel mission in the Congo reported that rebels with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) on Saturday set fire to a church in the Congolese village of Tora.
It was unclear how many people had been killed, the AP reports. The UN-run Radio Okapi also reported the attack on the church and civilian homes in the nearby village Libombi.
Come Mbolingaba of Caritas Congo said employees had spoken to villagers and confirmed the attack but had no information on the number of casualties.
"They burned people who were praying in a church," he said, according to the Associated Press.
Rebel spokesman David Matsanga said that rebels were not in the area and did not commit any atrocities.
The U.N. reports that the Lord's Resistance Army rebels have killed 537 people and kidnapped 408 in the Democratic Republic of Congo since September, 2008. Survivors of the attacks have reported that rebels attacked homes, raped women and murdered men with bats and axes.
Caritas Internationalis in a December press release reported a series of massacres carried out in the Democratic Republic of Congo by the LRA on Christmas Day and the days following.
Caritas Dungu-Doruma reported that over 400 were killed in attacks in northern Congo. The attacks included an assault upon a Catholic-organized Christmas Day concert in Faradje City. According to the director of Caritas Dungu-Doruma, the rebels returned the next day, killing about 150 in total.
Another attack on a church took place at the same time in Duru, north of Dungu. Reportedly 75 were killed and the church burned down.
Caritas stated that about 6,500 people have found refuge in the area with the Catholic Church.
Caritas Dungu-Doruma has pleaded for peace and has urged the Congolese government to protect the population from these attacks. The areas have been plundered, leaving people in desperate need of aid. The number of dead bodies also creates the risk of spreading disease.
The rebel Lord’s Resistance Army has been fighting primarily in northern Uganda for two decades. They have a reputation for brutality and for abducting children to serve as sex slaves and soldiers.