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LRA fighters, captives defect to the UPDF

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By  TABU BUTAGIRA

Posted  Thursday, December 12  2013 at  10:11

In Summary

ROLLER COASTER: Women and children among the 19 defectors who surrendered last weekend, according to the army

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Nineteen fighters of the Joseph Kony-led Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group have surrendered to the regional armies pursuing them, the African Union has announced.

In a statement issued late on Tuesday, the African Union said the rebels that surrendered were charges of LRA commander, ‘Lt Col’ Obur Nyeko a.k.a Okuti.

“The Regional Task Force of the African Union-led Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA) continues to register progress in the fight against the LRA, notably in the Central African Republic,” the continental bloc said. “The defectors surrendered with weapons and ammunitions.”

In Kampala, Military Spokesman Paddy Ankunda said the group of 19, among them six women and children; turned themselves in at Zemio near Obbo in Central African Republic.

“The defections mean Kony has lost control over his troops,” said Lt Col Ankunda, “If we keep up the momentum, we shall get more defections and Kony’s end will be in sight.”

Regional troops require armoured vehicles and force multipliers such as helicopters to obliterate the elusive insurgent group, and Lt Col Ankunda yesterday asked the AU to do more in mobilising logistics for the regional task force.

Presently, the regional militaries comprising Ugandan, South Sudanese, Congolese and a few dozen CAR troops mainly rely on an expanded US field logistics and intelligence, secured initially through bilateral arrangement between Kampala and Washington.
AU’s announcement in Addis Ababa of the news of the LRA group’s surrender on December 6, came just a week after a UPDF contingent of the AU force on November 28 killed top LRA commander, ‘Col’ Samuel Kangul and 13 fighters in an ambush in CAR.

The Ugandan military obtained arms, ammunition and top-end communication gadgets, and said intelligence showed Kangul was LRA’s chief of operations, who at the time of his death, was linking up with the group’s deputy commander, Dominic Ongwen.

Lt Col Ankunda told Daily Monitor that the defectors are undergoing psycho-social rehabilitation, and those in bad health receiving first line of treatment, ahead of their planned repatriation next week by the International Organisation for Migration. In the meantime, the army is interviewing them for more intelligence about the strength, armament and location of LRA combat units.

tbutagira@ug.nationmedia.com