Uganda captures Lord's Resistance Army commander

RIVER VOVODO, Central African Republic Sun May 13, 2012 8:52pm IST

Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander Caesar Achellam is seen in Owiny Kibul in this September 20, 2006 file photo. Uganda People's Defence Forces said Achellam, a major general in LRA leader Joseph Kony's outfit of about 200 fighters, had been captured in an ambush on May 12, 2012 along the banks of the River Mbou in neighbouring Central African Republic. REUTERS/James Akena

Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander Caesar Achellam is seen in Owiny Kibul in this September 20, 2006 file photo. Uganda People's Defence Forces said Achellam, a major general in LRA leader Joseph Kony's outfit of about 200 fighters, had been captured in an ambush on May 12, 2012 along the banks of the River Mbou in neighbouring Central African Republic.

Credit: Reuters/James Akena

Related Topics

RIVER VOVODO, Central African Republic (Reuters) - U ganda has captured one of the top five members of the Lord's Resistance Army, bringing it a step closer to catching Joseph Kony, the notorious rebel leader accused of war crimes, the military said on Sunday.

The Ugandan army said it caught Caesar Achellam, a major general in Kony's outfit of about 200 fighters, in an ambush along the banks of the River Mbou in Central African Republic (CAR) on Saturday.

Achellam was armed with just an AK-47 rifle and eight rounds of ammunition, a spokesman for the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF), said. He was being held with his wife, a young daughter and a helper.

The UPDF, which has a force hunting for Kony full-time in the jungles of CAR, backed by U.S. troops, said the capture of Achellam would encourage other fighters to abandon the LRA.

"The arrest of Major General Caesar Achellam is big progress because he is a big fish," said UPDF spokesman Felix Kulaigye. "His capture is definitely going to cause an opinion shift within the LRA."

Achellam, who was paraded before media, walked with a limp, which he attributed to an old wound. He was returning from the Democratic Republic of Congo when he walked into the soldiers' ambush. UPDF said it had been on his trail for a month.

Analysts said Achellam was a close ally of Kony and had masterminded the group's relocation from northern Uganda.

"From whichever angle you look at it, the loss of Achellam should be very troubling for Kony and a big boost for his manhunt," said Angelo Izama, an analyst who has written extensively on the LRA.

Kony, a self-styled mystic leader who at one time wanted to rule Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments, fled northern Uganda in 2005, roaming first the lawless expanses of South Sudan, then the isolated northeastern tip of Congo.

In December 2008, Uganda launched Operation Lightning Thunder against the LRA, dispersing the rebels and pushing them north into CAR.

The rebels live in the jungles of CAR surviving on wild yams, stolen cattle and drinking from rivers.

The International Criminal Court at The Hague has issued arrest warrants for Kony and his top commanders for several counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, although Achellam is not among those charged by the ICC.

Kony is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves and is said to have a fondness for hacking off limbs.

A 30-minute YouTube video by California-based film-maker Jason Russell calling for the arrest of Kony swept across the Internet in March, attracting tens of millions of views, bringing the LRA's atrocities to the attention of many people previously unaware of the group's existence.

The Ugandan government, the African Union and the United States all stepped up their commitment to the hunt for Kony in the wake of the outrage caused by the video, "Kony 2012".

(Additional reporting by Elias Biryabarema in Kampala; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

EBOLA OUTBREAK

REUTERS SHOWCASE

HK Protest

HK Protest

Prolonged Hong Kong protest could harm financial image, says envoy.  Full Article 

Climate Change

Climate Change

Cap on liability for climate damage worth a look - expert.  Full Article 

Caught in Korea

Caught in Korea

Third American held in N.Korea appeals to U.S. for help - report.  Full Article 

Expanding Range

Expanding Range

North Korea, already under UN sanctions, prepares launch site for longer-range rockets - report.  Full Article 

Syria Crisis

Syria Crisis

Massacre in Syrian Kurdish town would end PKK's peace talks with Turkey - Ocalan.  Full Article 

Road Offences

Road Offences

France's Le Pen loses driving licence, but says not her fault.  Full Article 

Nuclear Deal

Nuclear Deal

Israel's Netanyahu to Obama: Don't allow Iran deal that leaves it at nuclear threshold.  Full Article 

Germany Politics

Germany Politics

German defence crisis puts potential Merkel successor in hot seat .  Full Article 

Peace Conference

Peace Conference

Nobel Laureates condemn South Africa visa denial to Dalai Lama.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage