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President confirms Ugandan army battling South Sudanese rebels

Jan. 16, 2014 at 10:44 AM

LUANDA, Angola, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has acknowledged the Ugandan army has actively fought alongside South Sudanese government forces battling rebel forces.

Some Ugandan forces were killed and wounded, Museveni said, in a clash with rebel troops a day before the Ugandan parliament approved their deployment, the Sudan Tribune reported Thursday.

The Ugandan army had denied any involvement in the fighting.

Addressing heads of state Wednesday at a conference in Angola, Museveni said the Ugandan casualties occurred in a clash Monday with the forces of ousted South Sudan vice president Riek Machar about 55 miles outside of South Sudan's capital Juba.

He said Ugandan forces "inflicted a big loss on the side of the rebels. We also took casualties and had some dead."

Machar claimed Tuesday his forces defeated a combined South Sudan-Uganda force backed by helicopter gunships, dozens of tanks and other heavy artillery.

He has denounced the involvement of Ugandan troops and made their withdrawal from the country a condition for a cease-fire.

The Obama administration on Wednesday confirmed the Ugandan's army involvement in the conflict.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assistant U.S. secretary of state for African Affairs, told a congressional hearing Uganda wanted to protect certain structures vital to the flow of goods and people between Uganda and the Juba airport.

"They indicated they have an interest in a stable South Sudan but also said they have an interest in ensuring that a democratically elected government is not overturned by violent means," she said in response to a question by Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas.

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