Bishop appeals for international help

 A Sudanese Bishop has appealed to the international community to come to the aid of people forced to desert their villages in Sudan because of recent violence by Ugandan rebels. In a statement received by AFP on Thursday last, Bishop Akio Johnson Murtek of the Catholic Torit diocese in southern Sudan, accused the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) of killing more than 470 Sudanese civilians, raping and abducting girls and women and burning down six villages in a week of violence. The alleged atrocities were carried out in several villages along the Imotong mountain range in the Eastern Equatoria region of southern Sudan as the rebel LRA fled an offensive by Ugandan troops. Another 500 people are said to have fled their homes and six villages were torched as the LRA retreated after a raid by the Ugandan Peoples' Defence Forces, on their bases in the southern Sudan town of Katire. Bishop Murtek said he feared that if the situation continues unabated many civil populations who are currently scattered in the bushes might become vulnerable to all kind of dangers and diseases. In a separate statement on Friday, the Sudanese Catholic Information Office said that the LRA had raided three villages in the Magwi county of the same Eastern Equatoria area last Wednesday. The statement said rebels killed an unknown number of men and stripped naked girls and forced them to drink their own urine before raping them and taking them away. Local priest Leon Buga who works with displaced people in the area said the LRA raided three villages around Lokodi at 5pm on May 8, separating the women and men. "The men and boys were all brutally killed publicly whereas young girls between the ages of five and 16 were defiled before their parents," the priest added. In February of this year the Church World Service and the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA called on the US government to support the development and implementation of a multilateral policy through the UN system and regional initiatives, that could facilitate an end to the conflict and "the creation of a just peace for the Sudanese people."

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