The Hunt for Kony


Maj. Richard Kidega threaded his
way through a thicket of sweet black trees and thorny underbrush when
suddenly he drew to a halt. A young Ugandan soldier in front had raised a
clenched fist: the sign to stop. With their AK-47s raised, Kidega and
his men silently scanned the jungle for any signs of the enemy, such as
fresh tracks or trampled brush. Hanging vines clogged the path. Dry
leaves masked deep holes. The gully was an attractive place for an
ambush. “It’s places just like this where the LRA likes to hide,” Kidega
whispered, as the hunt for Joseph Kony, rebel leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, slowly moved ahead.

inhospitable swath of jungle in the Central African Republic is ground
zero in the search for Kony’s LRA. On any given day, Ugandan soldiers,
aided by U.S. special forces, comb through the forests, looking for one
of the most elusive war criminals in history, a man who has kidnapped thousands of children,
turning boys into hardened killers and girls into sex slaves. It is
estimated that the LRA has killed upwards of 70,000 civilians, kidnapped
some 40,000 children, and displaced hundreds of thousands of people in
four countries.

movement, which has now descended into butchery, rape, and even
cannibalism, began in 1986 as a popular insurrection against Ugandan
President Yoweri Museveni. Initially many in northern Uganda supported
the rebellion against Museveni, whose army ruthlessly persecuted the
Acholi people in the north. Eventually, however, the warlord’s
insurgency lost steam, and Kony turned on his own people, accusing them
of sinning against God. As punishment, Kony and his commanders have cut
off the lips, noses, and ears of victims; he has forced abducted
children to murder their own families to ensure loyalty; and he has
killed those who disobeyed orders.

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