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African Union Designates Lord's Resistance Army a Terror Group

A nurse dresses the machete wounds on the head of Jean-Marie Anigbishe, 45, who was attacked by Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels near Ngalima in northeastern Congo. (File Photo)

The African Union has formally declared Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army a terrorist group, and urged the United Nations Security Council to follow suit. The ban is the first of its kind by Africa's highest security body.

The AU Peace and Security Council issued a communique Tuesday designating the cult-like LRA a terrorist group and authorizing a regional cooperation initiative to eliminate it.

The unprecedented move follows last month's order by U.S. President Barack Obama, dispatching 100 military personnel to Uganda to help crush the LRA and capture Joseph Kony, its messianic leader. Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 on war crimes charges, but has evaded capture.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said the regional initiative is designed to finish off a group notorious for more than two decades of killings, rapes and kidnapping of children in Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

"We can say safely that the AU regional initiative aiming at neutralizing the LRA has been fully endorsed by the Peace and Security Council," said Lamamra.

Commissioner Lamamra urged the U.N. Security Council to reinforce the regional campaign by passing a similar resolution outlawing the LRA.

The rebel group is believed to have no more than a few hundred fighters, but they have been able to operate freely in the remote and lawless region of east central Africa.

Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, in an article published Tuesday in the Atlantic online, cautioned that it will take more than guns to defeat the Lord's Resistance Army.

Feingold said the goal of crushing the rebel group will only succeed if governments in the region address the political and economic grievances that have enabled the LRA to thrive.

But news agency dispatches suggest the move to eliminate Joseph Kony may be making progress. Reports in recent days say several of his followers have surrendered.