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Agency: Uganda rebels kidnap priests

GULU, Uganda (CNN) -- Rebels have kidnapped two Catholic missionaries from their post in northern Uganda, days after a peace initiative brokered by the missionaries began, a Catholic news agency reports.

The two priests, both Italian, were taken by members of the Lord's Resistance Army along with several civilians on Saturday, the Missionary Service News Agency in Rome said.

Editor Father Giulio Albanese said the rebels looted the Opit Missionary, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of Gulu, and burned several houses in the early morning raid.

The motive for the kidnappings was unclear.

"They are unpredictable ... but generally they respect the missionaries," said Albanese, who just returned to Rome from Uganda.

Albanese said he met a rebel delegation in northern Uganda 10 days ago as an international observer along with a group of mediators.

The status of the peace initiative, sponsored by the Catholic Church and other religious groups, is unclear.

The Lord's Resistance Army has been trying to overthrow the Ugandan government for 15 years, demanding the constitution be replaced with a version of the Ten Commandments.

Albanese says the rebel group practices an odd mix of religions.

"They fight with a rosary around their necks, at same time, they pray like Muslims," he said.

International human rights groups have voiced concerns about the rebel group because they have abducted thousands of children and forced them into battle.




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