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Business paralysed in Moroto as UPDF battles rustlers

Turkana and Karimojong pastoralists over see their cows

Moroto, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Business was paralysed in Rupa Sub County, Moroto district as Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers battled suspected cattle rustlers. The one and half hour gun battle led to the death of one warrior and recovery of 214 herds of cattle and four donkeys. 

The killed warrior was part of a group of Jie cattle rustlers from Kotido who had crossed to raid animals in Kobebe grazing area in Moroto district on Monday. One UPDF soldier was also left injured in the gun battle. 

Major Peter Mugisa the UPDF 3rd Division Spokesperson says that the warrior was gunned down at Toro hills, where they had planned to hide the stolen cows. 

“Our troops surrounded the hill where they had hidden the animals, so they engaged our soldiers and one of them was put out of action and two others were captured alive,” he said.

According to Mugisa, two warriors who were captured are providing credible information to security personnel that could lead to the arrest of ring leaders of the raid.  He adds that all the raided animals will be handed back to the owners.

Meanwhile, the Chairpersons of the village peace committees in Karamoja region have demanded the government to do conduct a disarmament exercise. 

The peace committee leaders made the call on Monday in Nakiloro grazing area in Rupa at the review of security gaps which is breeding insecurity again in Karamoja.

The call for fresh disarmament in Karamoja follows the current daily inter-district cattle raids between Matheniko of Moroto, Jie of Kotido, Dodoth of Kaabong, Bokora of Napak and Pokots of Amudat to Pian of Nakapiripirit and Nabilatuk districts.

In 2002, the government launched the first phase of disarmament exercise comprised voluntary disarmament in Karamoja, however, it didn’t yield good results since the armed Karimojong refused to give out the guns and became more aggressive to the army because they were being supported by some few leaders in the region.

The cattle thefts have since intensified with the warriors clashing with UPDF soldiers on daily basis.

Simon Losike, a chairman peace committee in Rupa Sub County said the resuming cattle rustling was an indication that there was rearmament going on in the hands of the Karimojong.

“We call upon the government to launch another serious phase of disarmament in Karamoja because we have realized that most people in Karamoja have again acquired guns,” he said.

John Lokong another peace leader for Achere village in Nadunget Sub County in Moroto district said the government has been ignoring the reports made by the peace committee chairpersons adding that the cattle rustling would have not again resurrected.

“We have been on several occasion making reports to the district chairpersons and the UPDF alerting them about the security situation in Karamoja before these warriors resumed raiding but the people in government ignored our reports,” he said.

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