U.S. says imposes sanctions on warlord Joseph Kony's sons

August 24, 2016 5:41 AM EDT

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KAMPALA (Reuters) - The United States said it had imposed economic sanctions on the Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony's two sons, saying they were commanders in the rebel group blamed for extreme violence in a large part of central Africa.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has been roaming the vast jungles spanning the borders of Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan after being ejected from northern Uganda around 10 years ago.

The U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a statement late on Tuesday it had designated Salim Kony and Ali Kony as acting on behalf of their father and the LRA and froze all their assets held in the country.

"OFAC remains committed to taking aggressive actions that will further diminish the capabilities of the LRA and its affiliates," the statement said.

It said the sanctions target the finances of the LRA and its leaders "while also combating their participation in the global illicit ivory trade".

Initially aiming to topple the government in Kampala, the LRA battled the Ugandan forces for nearly 20 years in the country's northern fringes before being ejected from the area.

The group acquired a notoriety for horrific violence, including abducting boys and girls to act as fighters and sex slaves.

Villagers suspected of spying on them were also subjected to extreme violence including hacking their limbs off and being forced to bludgeon colleagues.

The LRA abducted 498 civilians in the Central African Republic between January and June, according to a report by The Resolve and Invisible Children, two groups that track LRA violence.

The number of kidnappings were a six-year high, according to the two groups, and also coincided with threats by the Uganda government to reduce involvement in an operation to hunt down the LRA in the region.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by George Obulutsa and Dominic Evans)

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