Ugandan troops had wanted LRA leader in its sights

The ruthless African bush fighter that some 100 U.S. military advisers will soon help hunt down was almost caught by Ugandan troops earlier this month, a military official said Monday.

The Associated Press reports

Ugandan troops almost caught Joseph Kony, the leader of the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army, in the village of Ndjema in the impoverished nation of Central African Republic, Col. Felix Kulayigye, spokesman for Uganda’s military spokesman, told The Associated Press by phone. But Kony’s guards were fanned out around him and began exchanging gunfire with the Ugandan squad.

“What happened is that he escaped,” Kulayigye said from Kampala, Uganda. “The squad that was chasing him was unable to get him because those that guard him guard from a distance and engaged our forces before we could reach him.”

President Barack Obama announced Friday he is dispatching about 100 U.S. troops – mostly special operations forces – to central Africa to advise in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group Kony leads accused of widespread atrocities across several countries.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for heinous attacks in multiple countries.

The U.S. government has long opposed the ICC, undermining its authority with bribes and threats.

AP quotes U.S. official Virgina Blaser as saying the LRA has been responsible for at least 2,400 attacks and 3,400 abductions since 2008. The news agency notes:

Some experts suggest that the U.S. move is to reward Uganda for its contributions to the African Union force in Somalia that fights the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia.

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