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Kitgum residents flee as ‘rebels’ march in from South Sudan

Kitgum , Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Locals in Namokora, Orom and Mucwini sub-county have been told to evacuate the areas around Palokok forest as armed men from South Sudan have reportedly invaded the area and are beating and abducting people.

Francis Okello, a resident of Namokora sub-county says that the beating and abductions are being done in the forest of Palokok and Alipar found in the three sub-counties of Orom, Mucwini and Namokora by unknown armed men in army uniforms. He says that the government should urgently intervene and protect the lives of the locals who are residing in that area.

According to Robert Ocana, former Namokora sub-county chairperson, Kitgum district, the rebels from South Sudan are in the forest of Palokok. He adds that the rebels beat and harass people since the forest is so wide that it cannot be covered by all the security forces deployed.

Ocana further adds that the locals and the rebels don’t know the boundaries of Uganda and South Sudan from the forest since there is no visible demarcation.

Christopher Obol Arwai, Kitgum district chairperson says that the situation at Palokok forest is a security threat that needs to be taken seriously by the security forces because these rebels come and attack the locals who reside and cultivate near the forest.

The district security committee sat and advised the neighbouring communities to pause any activity in that area as the army launches operation, he adds.

Obol said that the advice to pause any activity in the area came due to suspected incursions from the rebels in South Sudan that infiltrated the area and made it insecure for the people around the forest. He adds that they had informed the security, and the army had been taken for deployment around the forest.

An estimated number of the rebels alleged to have entered the forest is more than 500, Obol confirms.

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