29 October 2013

East Africa: Report - U.S. Intensifying Effort to Help Catch Kony

Photo: RNW
Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony (file photo)

A new report says the United States is intensifying efforts to help catch fugitive African warlord Joseph Kony.

According to The Washington Post, the U.S. military has asked the White House to temporarily base Osprey aircraft in Uganda. It says the aircraft, which can land like helicopters but fly like planes, would allow U.S. and African troops searching for Kony to cover a broader area and more quickly assault his camps.

The Post says the move, if authorized, would nearly double the number of U.S. troops in Uganda, now capped at 100.

Uganda is leading a regional effort to find and catch Kony, whose rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, has terrorized central African villages for years.

The Post says U.S. soldiers have increased training for South Sudanese and Democratic Republic of Congo units taking part in the hunt. It also says that last month, U.S. special forces accompanied South Sudanese commandos on an unsuccessful search mission for Kony in Congo.

Kony and three other LRA leaders are wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The LRA fought the Ugandan government for 20 years before melting into the jungles of central Africa. In recent years, Kony's fighters have attacked and looted dozens of villages, often killing inhabitants and kidnapping children who they convert into soldiers.

The group is believed to have shrunk to just 250 fighters who travel in small bands through Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

In a new initiative, the Post says U.S. special forces have dropped thousands of postcards in Congo, trying to persuade LRA fighters to defect.

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