Uganda's army has said that the country's rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), is no longer posing a threat in Central African Republic (CAR) – where the group fled under international military pressure.
Having earned a reputation for carrying out massacres and mutilating civilians, the LRA was forced out of Uganda about a decade ago and roamed across parts of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, eluding efforts to defeat them. It moved to Central African Republic following increasing military pressure.
On 19 April, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) – the country's armed forces – announced that is has begun pulling its forces out of the CAR, where it had been hunting members of Joseph Kony's LRA. Conditions for withdrawal was that the mission would successfully neutralise the LRA, according to Uganda's New Vision newspaper.
"Joseph Kony with less than 100 armed fighters is now weak and ineffective. He no longer poses any significant threat to Uganda's security and Northern Uganda in particular," the statement by army spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire, read.
Who is the LRA?
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rose up in northern Uganda – under the leadership of warlord Joseph Kony – against the government in the late 1980s.
The rebel group is notorious for having abducted tens of thousands of children to serve as fighters and sex slaves and has killed and wounded thousands of civilians.
A few years ago, the LRA had about 800 combatants. As the result of defection campaigns and operations conducted primarily by the Ugandan military – along with the support of the US – it was estimated to have about 200 combatants left by 2015.
"The UPDF operations have contributed significantly to the restoration of peace and tranquillity in big areas of the CAR."
With key senior commanders such as Dominic Ongwen captured and appearing on trial, Okot Odhiambo having been killed in 2015, and others surrendered, the UPDF said that the LRA's "capacity and means of making war against Uganda have been degraded".
Ongwen, 40, is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda, where the group originated. His International Criminal Court trial began on 6 December 2016.
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