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African Union force to step up hunt for Kony
ENTEBBE, Uganda — The African Union will send 5,000 soldiers to join the hunt for rebel leader Joseph Kony in a new military mission officials say is necessary to remove the Lord's Resistance Army from Central Africa’s vast jungle.
The hunt for Kony has primarily been carried out by troops from Uganda, who received a boost last year when President BarackObama deployed 100 U.S. forces to help regional governments in the mission. American soldiers are now based in Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Congo.
Friday’s announcement comes the same month an Internet movie campaign by the advocacy group Invisible Children sought to make Kony “famous” so that policymakers would make it a priority to remove him. The video has been viewed more than 100 million times, though it has been criticized in Uganda for oversimplifying a complex military conflict.
The African Union mission, to be led by a Ugandan commander, to stop the LRA will comprise troops from Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Congo, countries where Kony’s reign of terror has been felt over the years.
The officials meeting in Uganda on Friday did not say where the funding for the mission was coming from but acknowledged that finding money was a problem.
Madeira said the coordinated deployment of African troops would “neutralize Kony” and isolate the LRA, whose men have split into in small groups. The LRA is thought to have only 200 to 300 soldiers in it. The group has forced many children to become child soldiers and porters and women and girls to become sex slaves.
“The awareness has been useful, very important,” he said.
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is believed to be hiding in the Central African Republic.
Kony has stopped using technology like telephones, making it hard to track him down. Ugandan troops operating in the Central African Republic have recently encountered small outfits of the LRA, including a confrontation in which an LRA captain was injured and captured on March 8, according to Col. Joseph Balikuddembe, the top Ugandan commander there.
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