JANUARY 2, 2010: LRA Rebel Leader Killed in CAR

Ugandan Rebel Leader Killed in Central Africa Republic

SOURCE: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

KAMPALA, Jan 2, 2010 (AFP) - Ugandan troops killed a leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, effectively the number two of the brutal militia, in the Central African Republic, military and intelligence officials said Saturday.

The troops killed Bok Abudema north of the town of Djema in the southeast of the Central African Republic on Friday, defence and army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye told AFP in Kampala by telephone.

"This was a New Year's gift to Uganda," Kulayigye said. "He was a notorious commander but his life has come to an end."

The LRA first appeared in northern Uganda in 1988 and have the reputation of being among the most brutal rebel forces in the world, using children as soldiers and sex slaves.

Successive Ugandan army operations have forced the group to move east into Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Intelligence officials told AFP that Abudema was effectively the second most senior commander of the outfit, led by war crimes-accused Joseph Kony, following the wounding about a year ago of deputy commander Okot Odhiambo.

"After Odhiambo sustained serious injuries, Abudema took over as the overall commander and deputy to Kony," one intelligence officer told AFP.

The "rebel fighters we have captured know him as the person most senior after Kony until we got him", the officer said, adding: "To us at the moment he (Odhiambo) is immaterial because he is no longer a threat."

Abudema was the only casualty of the raid that killed him but troops recovered two women who had been with him, Kulayige said.

There was no independent confirmation of his death.

In November the same military spokesman said Ugandan special forces killed another senior LRA commander, Okello Kutti, in the Central African Republic, near its eastern border with Sudan.

And in September he said the army had captured a top bodyguard to Kony in the same country.

The Ugandan army has said it was pursuing the rebels in the Central African Republic, which has no border with Uganda, with that government's permission.

Last month UN human rights chief Navi Pillay demanded the capture of LRA leaders for crimes against humanity in new reports detailing an orgy of killings, torture and rape of hundreds of civilians by the group. ..

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