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DRC militia releases 16 Ugandan fishermen

16 Ugandan fishrmen were abducted by Congolese militiamen abducted on March 14, 2021, near Kaiso landing site.

Hoima, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Sixteen Ugandan fishermen who were allegedly abducted by suspected Congolese militiamen on Lake Albert waters have been freed. The fishermen were freed on Saturday after a week in captivity.

They were allegedly abducted on March 14, 2021, while fishing near Kaiso landing site in Hoima district. It is alleged that four armed militiamen raided Lake Albert waters and put the fishermen at gunpoint before ordering them to surrender their possessions. The militiamen also robbed four fishing boats, four boat engines and several sets of fishing nets before crossing back to DRC with the loot.

Fred Mujuni, the chairperson of the Kaiso landing site fishing community told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Sunday morning that the militiamen set the fishermen free on Saturday evening after each paid USD 50. Before their release, the fishermen had been held at Tchomia landing site in Ituri Province in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Attacks by suspected Congolese militiamen on the Lake Albert waters have been rampant since 2018.

In October 2020, suspected armed Congolese militiamen raided Lake Albert where they abducted 16 fishermen, robbed 20 boat engines and 20 fishing boats. The incident happened near Kaiso and Kijangi landing sites in Buseruka sub-county in Hoima district and Sebigoro landing site in Kabwoya sub-county, Kikuube district.

In April 2020, two suspected Congolese militiamen were gunned down on Lake Albert in Hoima district in a fire exchange between the militia and the UPDF soldiers.

The two later identified as Ozelle Opio, 25, and another only identified as Singa were part of the group that invaded the landing site near Kaiso in Buseruka sub-county where they put several Ugandan fishermen at gunpoint, ordering them to surrender their fishing gear including boats, fishing nets, engines and hooks.

But in the process, some Ugandan fishermen sneaked off and alerted the UPDF who rushed to their rescue. Before the UPDF soldiers could reach them, the suspected militiamen opened fire leading to a fire exchange between them and the UPDF.

The UPDF also recovered three AK-47 guns with 47 rounds of ammunition that the militiamen were using at the time they were rounded up.

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