World Bulletin / News Desk
The Ugandan contingent serving in the African Union Regional Task Force (AURTF) in the Central African Republic (CAR) has captured a senior commander of the rebel Lord's Liberation Army (LRA).
"The capture of Lt. Charles Okello means the LRA have been left with only 200 fighters in CAR," Ugandan army spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
He said the rebel commander had been seized following an encounter some 520km from the town of Obo, the Ugandan contingent's tactical base.
"The force was also able to rescue ten abductees, including seven children," Ankunda said.
They also recovered three guns and dozens of ammunition magazines, he added.
The AURTF – a regional task force comprised of troops from Uganda, CAR and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – has been mandated by the African Union to restore peace and stability in landlocked CAR.
The Ugandan army, meanwhile, revealed that last week another LRA commander, James Onen, had surrendered to an army detachment in Uganda's northern town of Arua.
Onen reportedly said three of his comrades had deserted the rebel group, returning to their homes in Arua.
According to the Ugandan army, 360 LRA fighters have defected while 71 had been captured since 2009.
The LRA is a notorious rebel group blamed for abducting, killing and displacing local populations across East and Central Africa.
Joseph Kony, the group's leader, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
Claiming to champion marginalized communities of northern Uganda, the LRA first took up arms in 1986 after President Yoweri Museveni took power.
Based in the region for 20 years, the LRA failed to win over local populations, however, who said the group didn't represent their collective grievances.
From 2008 to 2010, the LRA had been one of the most violent groups in the Congo region, reportedly killing some 2300 civilians and abducting nearly 2500 others.
The LRA's first major foray into CAR was in March 2008, when it abducted dozens of people in a series of raids near Obo, capital of Haut Mbomou, one of CAR's 14 prefectures.
Last year, LRA militants moved further north into Haut Kotto, CAR's largest prefecture.Last Mod: 22 Nisan 2014, 14:30