DJEMA, Central African Republic, Sunday
Ugandan troops have captured a senior member of the Lord's Resistance Army in a milestone arrest that could signal they are closing in on notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony.
Caesar Acellam, considered the fourth-highest ranking member of the LRA, was arrested by Ugandan forces in Central African Republic, and was flown to the South Sudanese headquarters of the regional armies hunting the LRA.
"My coming out will have a big impact for the people still in the bush to come out and end this war soon," Acellam told reporters.
Acellam, aged 49, a tall man walking with a limp from an old wound, was flown to the base in the South Sudanese town of Nzara for medical checkups.
The Ugandan army is leading a US-backed African Union force tasked with capturing the LRA's leaders, several of whom are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Acellam was captured Saturday and made available a day later to confirm his arrest following a brief firefight near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"The general of the division, Caesar Acellam, who has fought in the jungle since 1984, is from now on in the hands of the Ugandan Army," Acellam told reporters, referring to himself in the third person.
The LRA's top three commanders are Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Kony. All are at large and wanted by the International Criminal Court along with another man, Vincent Otti, who is however thought to be dead.
"He's a big fish," Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said of Acellam, who was captured along with a Ugandan woman, a Central African teenager and a baby. None of them was hurt in the arrest.
"The fact that Caesar Acellam is prisoner is a major step for us towards ending the rebellion," Kulayigye said.
Ugandan army units had reportedly waited in ambush for three weeks for the rebel after they tracked his group of around 30 fighters, army sources said.
However, Acellam split from his men a few days ago, for reasons that were not immediately clear. He surrendered after the army fired a few shots.