KAMPALA, Uganda-Ugandan troops captured a top Lord’s Resistance Army commander, Caesar Achellam, in the jungles of the Central African Republic as the hunt for fugitive rebel leader Joseph Kony enters a decisive stage, the Ugandan army said Sunday.
Mr. Achellam, a major-general in the rebel ranks, was captured alive after a firefight with U.S.-backed Ugandan troops Saturday, a Ugandan army spokesman said. “Achellam is alive, and we are expecting him at Entebbe airport today,” the spokesman said.
Caesar Achellam, a commander in the Joseph Kony’s Lords Resistance Army, in a 2006 photo. Ugandan troops said Sunday they had captured Mr. Achellam.
Mr. Achellam was captured in an ambush along the River Mbou, as he attempted to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ugandan army said. The army also detained his wife and an escort. At least a dozen fighters escaped the ambush.
Mr. Achellam is among the top three LRA commanders who have been on the run for more than two decades. Ugandan officials said Mr. Achellam was the LRA’s military strategist at the time of his capture.
Since the mid-1980s, LRA fighters have passed through Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and most recently the Central African Republic, killing tens of thousands of civilians and abducting more than 20,000 children.
In March, a U.S. advocacy group known as “Invisible Children” caused an Internet sensation with a 30-minute video, “Kony 2012,” on the LRA’s violent history. The “Kony 2012″ video went viral, becoming the most-viewed video in web history and lifting Mr. Kony’s profile.
Last week, the United Nations said Mr. Kony’s capture was imminent.
At least 100 U.S. military advisers are stationed at five points in Central Africa to help Ugandan troops capture Mr. Kony.
Mr. Kony operated in northern Uganda until 2005, before fleeing to Congo. In 2008, Uganda launched a military offensive against the LRA, bombing several camps in the jungles of Garamba. Mr. Kony and his henchmen later fled to the Central African Republic where they have remained on the run.
Mr. Kony and at least three of his surviving commanders are wanted by the International Criminal Court to answer charges of rape, the mutilation and murder of civilians, as well as conscription and recruitment of children to serve as soldiers and sex slaves.
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