A watchdog group says more than 70 women and children have been freed over the past month from the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, whose leader is the subject of an international manhunt involving U.S. troops.

Invisible Children said Tuesday that 12 of the abductees managed to escape following clashes between rebels and security forces in Congo between Aug. 23 and 25.

The rebel group is increasingly degraded amid a hunt for its fugitive commanders in the jungles of Central Africa. Some commanders have recently defected and turned themselves in to Ugandan troops.

Kasper Agger of the watchdog group Enough Project said it was possible that rebel commanders are releasing women and children in order to give the group more mobility amid military pressure.