Fugitive African warlord Kony stays a step ahead of pursuers

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Rape, pillage, maim, kill

Ongwen, the Kony deputy who avoided capture, is thought to have sneaked into Congo. Okot Odhiambo, another top Kony lieutenant, is hiding in the Central African Republic, according to Col. Kulayigye.

The three, including Kony, are wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity over two decades in Uganda and later in South Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic, the four countries where U.S. forces have been deployed.

At the peak of its powers, the Lord's Resistance Army was a cruel group whose ragtag fighters razed villages, raped women and amputated limbs.

In Uganda, where the Lord's Resistance Army was born in the 1980s as a popular uprising against President Yoweri Museveni, the insurgency killed hundreds of people and sent millions fleeing into filthy camps for the internally displaced.

The Lord's Resistance Army is especially notorious for recruiting boys to fight and for taking girls as sex slaves, the reason the U.S. charity Invisible Children started a successful online video campaign early this year to raise global awareness of the rebels’ crimes.

This year alone the Lord's Resistance Army killed 39 civilians in Congo and the Central African Republic, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report this month. An additional 193 people were abducted in both countries, Mr. Ban’s report to the U.N. Security Council said.

‘Significant progress’

The African Union this year endorsed the creation of a force to hunt down the militia’s leaders, with all LRA-affected countries expected to contribute toward the envisaged force of 5,000 soldiers.

But several months later, only about 2,500 troops, the bulk of them Ugandan and a few hundred soldiers from South Sudan and the Central African Republic, have materialized for the mission. Congo has yet to make a contribution.

The U.S. has spent $30 million every year since 2008 on the LRA mission, including on supplies such as fuel for helicopters, according to Daniel Travis, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Uganda.

Hilary Renner, the spokeswoman for the State Department’s Africa bureau, cited the capture in May of Caesar Acellam, a top LRA strategist, as well as the near-capture of Ongwen as examples of “significant progress” made in efforts to weaken the Lord's Resistance Army.

“Defections from the LRA’s ranks have significantly increased over recent months,” Ms. Renner said. “Since Acellam’s capture, several mid-level officers have left the group.

“We are working with the regional forces and nongovernmental organizations to airdrop more leaflets, expand radio broadcasts, and establish safe reporting sites to encourage the remaining LRA to peacefully surrender from the group,” she said.

Angelo Izama, an analyst who runs a Kampala-based security think tank called Fanaka Kwawote, said the Lord's Resistance Army would be even weaker today if countries like Congo and the Central African Republic became as committed as the Ugandans are to fighting the rebels.

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