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Two Rwandan nationals shot at Uganda-Rwanda border

FILE PHOTO: Uganda-Rwanda border

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | There is increased tension along the Uganda-Rwanda border of Katuna, after Rwandan security officials shot two of their nationals who had crossed into Uganda to smuggle irish potatoes.

The Monday evening incident happened 300 meters away from the Ugandan border. One of the two victims was identified as Jean Pierre Havugimana, 28, a resident of Kabaya village in Northern Rwanda. The other person could not be identified easily.

The two had reportedly crossed into Uganda through a porous border at Rushaki in Karujanga, Katuna town council. According to Kigezi region police spokesperson Elly Maate, each of them was carrying 50 kilograms of Irish potatoes at the time they were shot at.

Havugimana fled back to Uganda. He was first admitted at Katuna community medical clinic and later referred to Rushoroza hospital in Kabale town for further treatment, while his colleague, was whisked away by Rwandan security.

Katuna town council chairman Nelson Nshangabasheija says that the shooting which lasted for about 30 minutes created fear among residents. Nshangabbasheija says that Rwandan nationals have continued to sneak to Uganda looking for food and other necessities after they waited for the border to open in vain.

Franco Korinako, the chairperson of Katuna border traders association says that the incident is an indication that even Ugandans are at risk since Rwandan security operatives use shooting as an immediate option to people who illegally cross instead of arresting.

Korinako says that Rwandan nationals are forcing themselves to cross to Uganda in Katuna because it is a major source of food and many of them have relatives there. Korinako says that the border closure has completely suffocated business at the border.

This is not the first time that Rwandan soldiers are shooting at suspected smugglers. On May 3, 2019, Rwandan soldiers shot Innocent Ndahimana, a resident of Nyakabungo Village in Rwanda, who was found smuggling beans to Uganda through Katuna border in Kabale district.

In May 2019, John Batista Kyerengye, a resident of Nkoma cell, Rwanda and Alex Nyesiga Atuheire, a resident of Nyakabungo village in Kamwezi Sub County in Rukiga district were shot dead by Rwandan security operatives at Hamisavu Trading Centre in Kiruhura village Kamwezi sub-county.  The duo was killed during fights between the Rwandan soldiers and residents during the arrest of a suspected smuggler in Hamisavu trading centre.

Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda in February 2019 to purportedly expedite the construction of the single customs at Gatuna border.  Rwanda advised truck drivers destined to Kigali to use Kagitumba border via Mirama Hills.

However, Rwandan officials including President Paul Kagame later accused Ugandan authorities of abducting its citizens and locking them up in ungazetted areas. Rwanda also accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially Rwanda National Congress-RNC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda FDLR, which have declared war on the Kigali government.

As a result, Rwanda advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda, saying it could not guarantee their safety.  Rwanda also deployed security officials and destroyed all temporary bridges to bar Rwandans from crossing to Uganda.  Despite the border closure and warnings, Rwandans continue to cross to Uganda using porous borders to look for foodstuffs and goods.



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