Ugandan military authorities have confirmed that the man who surrendered to surendered to American forces in the crisis-prone Central African Republic (CAR), is Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Many doubted if he was actually the one when the report that Ongwen was in the custody of the US filtered in late Tuesday, but Cryspus Kiyonga, Uganda’s minister of defence, confirmed that the rebel leader was actually the one in captivity.
Paddy Ankunda, the Ugandan army spokesman, disclosed that soldiers from Uganda had visited the facility where Ongwen was being detained to confirm his identity.
According to Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the US State Department, Ongwen claimed to be an LRA defector when he surrendered.
“In co-ordination with the AURTF (African Union forces), US military forces took custody of an individual claiming to be a defector from the LRA. That individual later identified himself as Ongwen,” she told reporters in Washington.
The LRA first emerged in northern Uganda in 1986, fighting against the regime of President Yoweri Museveni.
It however spread through the porous borders of countries in Central Africa, moving from Uganda to southern Sudan to north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and finally into south-eastern CAR in March 2008.
According to LRAcrisistracker.com, set up by two non-governmental organisations to map atrocities by the LRA, Ongwen was abducted as a 10-year-old while on his way to school.
He rose rapidly through the organisation’s ranks, becoming a major at 18 and a brigadier by his late 20s.
In 2005, The International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity issued an arrest warrant for Ongwen on three charges of crimes against humanity and four of war crimes.
Led by Joseph Kony, the LRA has, according to the United Nations, killed more than 100,000 people and kidnapped more than 60,000 children in almost three decades in central Africa.
Kony has turned scores of young girls into his personal sex-slaves and several boys into child soldiers.
Also wanted by the ICC, the United States offered $5million for the capture of Kony.