LRA leader Joseph Kony poses with son
LRA leader Joseph Kony poses with son

Joseph Kony's Lord Resistance Army is continuing to hunt down children after abducting more than 600 of them, in a trail of carnage across central Africa since 2009.

The United Nations said the Lord of Resistance Army has abducted the children to use as sex slaves and child soldiers.

While the campaign launched earlier this year by Invisible Children proved a hit with the release of an internet documentary, Kony 2012  which was viewed by more than 100 million people, the LRA has stepped up attacks in Central Africa.

The LRA first operated in the north of Uganda but left the country a fears back , now dividing its operations between Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Many of the children abducted by Kony's army are being forced to kill relatives, Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN special representative on children and conflict, told reporters.

A UN report on the LRA says at least 45 children have been killed and maimed following attacks between July 2009 and February 2012.

At least 591 children, including 268 girls have been abducted, the report added.

"The actual numbers of abductions is much higher, these are just the ones we are aware of," Coomaraswamy said.

"These children are used in various roles: as combatants, as spies, as guards, as porters, as cooks. They are often forced to kill their family and friends, especially in the villages that they come from."

Despite renewed effort to arrest the fugitive and rebel leader Kony, he still has an army of between 300 to 500 pillaging villages in central Africa. The UN estimates more than half of the militants are now children.

Most of the girls abducted are forced into sexual slavery, being repeatedly raped or forcibly married. Most girls fall pregnant but with no access to protection sexually transmitted diseases including HIV are rife.

Coomaraswamy said Kony himself has at least three child brides.

Kony became leader of the LRA in 1986. The group's goal was originally to overthrow the Ugandan government and establish a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments.

Kony, is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.