LRA rebels abduct children in Central African Republic

A campaign group says the Lord’s Resistance Army LRA rebel force has abducted 217 people since January in the Central African Republic CAR.

According to LRA Crisis Tracker, this is nearly double the number of abductions carried out by the LRA in 2015.

Report says the abductees, including 54 children, may have been forced to become soldiers or sex slaves.

The LRA appear to be trying to replenish its forces because of military setbacks.

It has been hit by a spate of defections, and arrests since foreign forces began pursuing it in 2011.

The US deployed 100 Special Forces to support thousands of African troops searching for LRA commanders.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for its leader, Joseph Kony, to stand trial for war crimes.

In December, his former bodyguard, George Okot, defected.

Sean Poole of the Invisible Children campaign group, which is part of LRA Crisis Tracker said The LRA had lost a large chunk of its fighting force, and seemed to be trying to rebuild its force through abductions.

He said the spike in abductions in the first three months of this year signaled a huge change in the modus operandi of the LRA.

The LRA was formed in northern Uganda nearly three decades ago, but retreated to CAR and other countries as it came under military pressure.

LRA Crisis Tracker says it is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths, and a similar number of abductions.