Hunt for Joseph Kony intensifies

2012-04-30 14:00

Uganda - The hunt for Africa's most wanted man, Joseph Kony, has intensified as US special forces have joined the Ugandan army to help find him.

His decades-old war kept much of north Uganda trapped in a nightmare of violence, hunger and fear of night-time raids by his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Here is a look at Kony and his rebel group:

* The LRA emerged in the late 1980s in northern Uganda as a successor to the Holy Spirit Movement, a rebel group led by Kony's aunt Alice Lakwena - defeated by Ugandan forces.

* When Kony launched his war against the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who seized power in 1986, he said he wanted to fight for the rights of the Acholi, a marginalised northern tribe.

* When his people did not back his campaign, Kony fled to south Sudan with a plan to obliterate the "treacherous" Acholi.

* Kony, who served as an altar boy in his village, has claimed he talks to angels and wants to rule Uganda according to the biblical Ten Commandments.

* Preaching a mix of Christian beliefs and traditional African religion, he initially attracted a wide following but failed to win lasting support and, under pressure from the Ugandan army and local resistance, he was forced out of Uganda.

* The LRA became notorious for abducting children for use as soldiers and sex slaves. An LRA hallmark is slicing off lips and ears of "collaborators" to punish and mark them out. Many of Kony's thousands of abductees were forced to kill children who tried to escape, or murder their own relatives, fostering a sense of complicity that guarantees subservience.

* Under Kony's instruction, child soldiers and their commanders, many barely in their teens, carried out the most violent attacks on unarmed villagers.

* More than 300 civilians were shot, hacked and burned to death in February 2004 in one LRA raid on a camp housing some of the more than 1.6 million people uprooted by the war.

* Kony, who has worn his hair in dreadlocks or braids and sometimes dressed in women's clothes, according to former fighters, is a powerful speaker.

* A self-proclaimed mystic, Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity in 2005.

* Several attempts to capture him by the UN and Ugandan forces over the past few years have failed. However, a 58-man special operations group, codenamed 77-kilo, is at the forefront of a reinvigorated international drive to close the net on Kony and the depleted remnants of the LRA.

* US President Barack Obama sent 100 US military advisers to central Africa last October to help Ugandan forces in the hunt for Kony.

* Uganda's military estimates the LRA has been reduced to no more than 200 fighters in the Central African Republic. Pockets of LRA fighters also remain in Congo.

They move in small groups and avoid using satellite phones and radios, making them hard to intercept.

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  us  |  uganda  |  east africa

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