December 4, 2013 (KAMPALA) - The Ugandan army on Tuesday said a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander killed in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) was close to rebel leader Joseph Kony.
- Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Major General Joseph Kony, is seen in an exclusive image at peace negotiations in Ri-Kwangba, southern Sudan November 30, 2008 (Reuters)
A contingent of Ugandan soldiers operating under the African Union’s Regional Task Force (RTF) said Col Samuel Kangu and 13 LRA rebels died last Thursday after they were ambushed by the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
Kongul was reportedly leading a group of LRA fighters to meet another rebel group under the command of Dominic Ongwen, one of the commanders wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Kangul was senior in the sense that he was very close to Kony. He was a logistician, a master planner and a senior commander”, Uganda army spokesman Major Robert Ngabirano told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
“We have been monitoring him since his time in northern Uganda [and] South Sudan until we killed him in [the] Central Africa Republic”, Ngabirano said.
“In Central Africa the LRA has split into small groups. So if you kill someone commanding a group of 30 fighters then he is a big commander”, the UPDF spokesman said in an apparent reference to the number of the fighters the slain LRA commander was leading.
The LRA fighters were tracked with intelligence and logistical assistance provided by American military advisors, the Uganda military said.
In 2011, US president Barrack Obama deployed 100 military advisers in the Great Lakes region to help regional armies in the fight against the LRA inside the CAR.
The LRA fled Uganda in 2006 after coming under intense pressure from the Uganda military.
The brutal rebel group has since gone on to cause havoc in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and CAR.
A hunt for the rebels was interrupted in March last year when Seleka rebels took over power in CAR and ordered foreign forces to leave the country.
Ngabirano said the soldiers that killed the LRA commander operate under the auspices of the AU. He said the force is made up of 2,000 soldiers and that their mandate allows them to conduct operations against the LRA.
The LRA has been accused of gross human rights violations in northern Uganda and several areas of the Great Lakes region.
In 2005, the ICC indicted the LRA’s top leadership, including Kony, for war crimes.