THE HAGUE (AFP) - Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony will be captured or killed this year, the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor said Thursday.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo added that the "Kony 2012" video, produced by the Invisible Children advocacy group and viewed nearly 100 million times online, forever changed a conflict that has raged since the late 1980s in relative obscurity.
"We reached a complete new generation," following the 28-minute video's release, said Moreno-Ocampo, who in 2005 secured an arrest warrant for Kony and four of his top deputies, two of whom have since died.
"Kony will be arrested or killed before the end of this year," the Argentinian Moreno-Ocampo told journalists, without specifying why he felt the elusive rebel leader would finally be found.
Kony launched his rebellion in northern Uganda more than two decades ago but has since been chased to the jungles of neighbouring central African states.
In December 2008, Uganda led a US-backed offensive on LRA camps in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, but Kony escaped and his small band of fighters scattered around the vast jungle region.
US President Barack Obama has sent 100 special forces to the region to assist the Ugandan, Congolese, Central Africa and South Sudanese troops hunting for Kony and the remnants of the LRA.
Ocampo was speaking at one of his last public engagements before leaving his post at The Hague-based court, with Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian, set to take over as chief prosecutor next month.
The Kony 2012 video was criticised by some, in part for oversimplifying the root causes of the LRA's devastating insurgency, but Ocampo applauded it for raising awareness about the conflict to unprecedented levels.
"Whatever you think about the video, it is a 28-minute video about crimes that unseated Lady Gaga," said Moreno-Ocampo, noting that Kony 2012 briefly got more online attention than the singer rated by Rolling Stone magazine as last year's top female pop artist.
Kony is wanted by the ICC for rape, mutilation and the murder of civilians, as well as abducting and forcibly recruiting children to serve as child soldiers or sex slaves.