A commander in Uganda’s notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) captured by rebels in the Central African Republic has been identified as Okot Odek, a key figure in the group, a local police source told AFP on Wednesday.
“We have a list of LRA chiefs who are wanted and considered dangerous… and the one who has just been handed over to American forces is commander Okot Odek,” said the police source in Obo, a city in eastern CAR where Ugandan and US forces tracking the LRA are based.
The source added that Odek’s identity had been confirmed by himself and by “certain elements” who had surrendered.
He was handed over to US forces on Monday by a faction of the Seleka rebels in CAR.
The transfer followed recent LRA attacks in the east and northeast of the country resulting in at least one death and dozens of abductions.
Odek was a senior commander and former key bodyguard for LRA chief Joseph Kony, an indicted war criminal who continues to evade a years-long international manhunt, though much of his force has been dispersed by African Union troops with US support.
According to UN estimates, the LRA slaughtered more than 100 000 people and abducted 60 000 children in a bloody rebellion against Kampala that began in 1986.
Odek was kidnapped by the LRA as a child around eight years old in the Gulu region of northern Uganda, a bastion of the rebellion.
He later rose to be LRA lieutenant-colonel, running militia forces in the Garamba national park in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The US-based Enough Project, which has long monitored the LRA, called Odek in 2010 “one of (the) LRA’s most able commanders”.