WASHINGTON, January 7 (Sputnik) — An individual identifying himself as a senior leader of the African rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) defected to joint African Union and US forces, the US State Department said.
"US military forces took custody of an individual claiming to be a defector from the LRA. That individual later identified himself as [Dominic] Ongwen," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Tuesday, adding that US forces are still determining if the defector is the feared military commander.
Psaki noted that if the alleged rebel leader's identity is confirmed it would be a "historic blow" to the LRA.
Lord's Resistance Army is a rebel group operating in the borderlands of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The group, led by Joseph Kony, is known for its brutal tactics, including kidnapping children for use as child soldiers and cutting off the ears of villagers.
LRA leaders including Ongwen are sought by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United States has offered logistical support to regional countries and deployed a small number of military advisers to the African Union task force battling the LRA.