The Ugandan army has captured a senior Lord’s Resistance Army commander and close ally of rebel leader Joseph Kony in an ambush in the Central African Republic.
Caesar Achellam, the LRA’s military strategist and one of its top five officials, was captured alive on Saturday after a firefight with US-backed Ugandan troops along the Rive Mbou as he attempted to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to The Wall Street Journal. The army has also detained his wife and an escort.
A spokesman for the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), which has a full-time force hunting for Kony in the Central African Republic’s jungles along with soldiers from other African nations and US special forces, told Reuters that Achellam’s capture would encourage other fighters to abandon the LRA:
“The arrest of Major General Caesar Achellam is big progress because he is a big fish,” he said. “His capture is definitely going to cause an opinion shift within the LRA.”
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The LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony, a self-styled mystic leader, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for rape, mutilation and murder of civilians, as well as for forcing children to serve as soldiers and sex slaves, the BBC reports.
A 30-minute YouTube video calling for Kony’s arrest was watched tens of millions of times after it was posted online in March by the US advocacy group Invisible Children. The Ugandan government, the African Union and the United States all stepped up their attempts to hunt Kony down following its appearance.
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