The Ugandan military says it is ending its manhunt for fugitive warlord Joseph Kony after years of chasing him and bands of loyal fighters across Central Africa.
A military spokesman, Brigadier General Richard Karemire, told a reporter for VOA’s Swahili service Wednesday that the search for Kony has been suspended.
Ugandan newspapers report the first batch of soldiers have returned from the Central African Republic, where the soldiers searching for Kony have been based.
The U.S. military announced last month it will remove its personnel from Operation Observant Compass, the Ugandan-led task force pursuing Kony and members of his rebel Lord’s Resistance Army.
The LRA once had an estimated 2,000 fighters and was blamed for attacks on villages and kidnappings across the C.A.R., South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A Ugandan military statement Wednesday said Kony now has less than 100 fighters under his command and is “weak and ineffective. He no longer poses any significant threat to Uganda’s security and Northern Uganda in particular.”
Northern Uganda is where the LRA waged a brutal insurgency for 20 years before relocating to the jungles of Uganda’s neighbors.
Several senior LRA leaders have been captured, killed or surrendered, the most recent being Kony’s chief communications officer Michael Omona, who gave himself up in the C.A.R. last month.
Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, remains at large. A former senior LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, is currently on trial at the ICC in The Hague.
The United Nations estimated in 2013 that the LRA had killed more than 100,000 people and kidnapped more than 60,000 over the previous quarter-century.