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US: LRA Commander May Be in Custody

Bambari, CAR

The United States says a top commander in the notorious Lord's Resistance Army may have turned himself in to U.S. forces in central Africa.

The State Department said Tuesday that a man claiming to be Dominic Ongwen has surrendered in the Central African Republic. U.S. military advisors are in the Central Aftican Republic helping an African Union force chasing the LRA and its leaders.

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said "efforts to establish a full and positive identity" of the alleged defector are underway.

She said if Ongwen has actually turned himself in, "his defection would be a historic blow to the LRA's command structure."

The LRA is blamed for killing and kidnapping tens of thousands of people across four African countries over the last 30 years. The group battled the Ugandan government for two decades before breaking into bands of roving fighters that have often attacked and pillaged settlements in remote areas.

The United States has offered up to $5 million for information leading to Ongwen's capture. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ongwen is one of five LRA leaders wanted by the court, including the group's top commander, Joseph Kony