The raids have become bolder with security reporting daring attacks every other day. On Sept. 11, the warriors raided and stole about 1,500 cattle; including 158 animals belonging to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Jane Frances Abodo, in Nabilatuk District. Apparently, the raiders made away with their loot along a route that was not far away from Morulinga State Lodge where President Museveni had camped from Sept.09.
A week earlier, the rustlers targeted the farm of the chairperson of the General Court Martial, Lt. Gen. Andrew Guti, and stole 100 cattle, the second such raid on his kraal in a month. These incidents spread fear and cattle herders now move their animals to near army posts for protection. And the mayhem comes amidst a major disarmament campaign in which over 1,000 guns have been recovered both through voluntary disarmament and also forceful measures by the security forces.
When President Museveni met top security commanders and political leaders from Karamoja on Sept.12, he gave them his version of what possibly triggered the current insecurity in the sub-region.
Apparently, the re-emergence of cattle raids in Karamoja were sparked off by a Karamojong warrior who was recently released from prison after serving 10 years.
On return, the ex-convict, one Acucu, found his wives married to other men and all his cattle gone. When Acucu, who is currently roaming the Jie-Turkana axis, was not helped by the local leaders to start over, he reportedly resorted to what he is best at: raiding.
He is said to have mobilized warriors he raided with before and attacked the Dodoth area. The Dodoth resorted to revenge attacks on the Jie. Soon the region was engulfed in counter raids and bloodshed. Security officials say at least 400 people have been killed over the last two years.
Museveni said the Karamoja insecurity is based on laxity by state actors, revenge and inter-clan clashes. He said the region has five major problems; cattle raids, road ambushes, attacking homes, taking cattle on vehicles for sell, and hunger.
“The main problem is insecurity and hunger,” Museveni said, “With raiding cattle, anybody who raids cows should be seen by our security drones especially when they are raiding on a big scale.”
Museveni said he will soon increase the capacity of the UPDF brigade in the area up to a total of 70,000 military personnel. He said police must organise themselves to go up to the sub-country level and tackle crime like stealing one cow and murder.
“All these insecurities are easy to solve and UPDF will solve them. What will remain now is crime, which police must come in to resolve,” Museveni said.
On the issue of hunger, Museveni said the Office of the Prime Minister would get food for the people. Area Resident District Commissioners, LCV chairpersons, all security heads, and the 26 MPs from the nine districts attended.
Museveni also proposed forming “kraal intelligence units” to break the criminal alliances among clans which are said to be behind the escalating tension and insecurity in the sub-region.
“What I want is Kraal based intelligence. I need an informer per kraal. Our army has the capacity to reach anywhere day or night in one hour. We shall provide small phones to the informers to call security contacts,” Museveni told the leaders.
But Local leaders say there is need for the state to create meaningful relations between security services, community leaders, and the kraal leaders.
Remigio Achia, the MP for Pian County who also doubles as the chairperson of Karamoja Parliamentary group, told Museveni that the cumulative effect of unattended conflict situations brought the insecurity to the stage Karamoja is experiencing now.
“Some elements in some communities are taking the law into their own hands and criminals interpreting slow response as lack of government willingness to deal decisively with it,” he said.
The re-emerging insecurity has been blamed on youthful “criminal alliances” among the Jie, Matheniko, Bokora and Pian clans who attack their own communities, steal cattle and keep them in kraals before selling them off in exchange for guns. They have also been staging ambushes; especially along the Kaabong-Kotido route to steal from their communities.
The group recommended intelligence-led operations to curb crime and pave way for disarmament and quick deployment of the army.