December 11, 2013 (KAMPALA) - Nineteen rebels from the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) have surrendered to African Union (AU) forces in the Central Africa Republic (CAR), according to the anti-LRA advocacy group, Invisible Children.
The Ugandan army on Wednesday confirmed the developments and said plans were underway to airlift the rebels to Uganda.
Invisible Children described the defection as the largest since the LRA moved into CAR in 2008.
“On 6 December, 19 LRA defected en masse near the community of Zemio in the Central African Republic. This is the single largest LRA defection since the group moved into central Africa in 2008, and an enormous victory for African Union led counter-LRA efforts”, the advocacy group said in a post on its website on Wednesday.
Invisible Children said the rebels comprised of nine adult males, four adult females and six children. Of those, six were Ugandans and included a lieutenant and a lieutenant colonel
The organisation’s chief executive, Ben Keesley, said the LRA surrender is a victory for regional efforts to crush the rebel group, which is designated as a terrorist organisation by the US state department.
The LRA rebels are said to have contacted a local fisherman who in turn took them to his village from the Ugandan military was contacted.
The LRA has been accused of committing vicious crimes in Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the CAR.
Top commanders of the rebel group, including its leader Joseph Kony, were in 2005 indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
None of the indicted rebel leaders has been apprehended and handed over for trial at the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands.
Efforts by regional forces to apprehend the rebels are ongoing with intelligence and logistical support being provided by the US military.
Two weeks ago, the Ugandan army announced that it had killed a senior LRA commander in CAR. Col Samuel Kangul, who was said to have had close ties with Kony, was killed along with 13 other fighters while on a mission to link up with another senior LRA commander.