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Ugandan nationals arrested in disputed border area released

Lamwo RDC Osborn Oceng (2nd right) officiated the mediation. URN photo

Lamwo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Authorities in South Sudan have released and handed over four Ugandan nationals who were held captive during a fire exchange between military forces last week.

Lamwo Resident District Commissioner Osborn Oceng says that the four were arrested at different intervals following a fierce fire exchange between the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) on Saturday. They were identified as Patrick Obwona, two-year-old Ramsey Rwot-Twero, Joanna Acen and Charles Olweny Langoya, all residents of Nyimur sub county in Lamwo district.

It’s reported that Patrick Obwona who was on his routine farming activities in Te-lela village attempted to flee along with his two-year-old son, Ramsey Rwot-Twero when gunfire erupted. However, he was intercepted by South Sudan soldiers prompting his wife Joanna Acen and a relative identified as Charles Olweny Langoya to pursue him.

But both groups were arrested and held captive until today when they were presented to Oceng at the Waligo border post. Oceng says the captives were held at Owiny-Ki-Bul in Magwi County of the Eastern Equatorial State, adding that their release is a result of rigorous consultations and negotiations with South Sudan.

Lamwo Deputy Resident District Commissioner Sebastian Oguti Oswin says that despite claims of humiliation and torture suffered by the purported suspects in the hands of their captors, the ex-captive looked healthy and were offered psychosocial support before they were reunited with their families.

Oguti condemned the capture which he says is due to unfounded claims over borderline disputes which can only be handled by the central governments of the two sovereign states but not by inferior officers attached at the border.

According to Oguti, UPDF personnel were deployed at Waligo and Kadomera last week in response to persistent attacks on innocent Ugandan civilian populations living within areas along the borders by armed suspected South Sudanese personnel.

Last month, the LCI chairperson of Padwat village in Nyimur sub county, Kalisto Ongeee was killed by an armed suspected South Sudanese bandit who in separate incursions have stolen a cumulative total of 220 herds of cattle.

The County Commissioner of Magwi in the Eastern Equatorial State of South Sudan David Remson Otoo regrets the incidents although he refuted allegations of torture and humiliation of the suspects which he pledged to investigate. Otto also pledged to investigate allegations of livestock thefts, killings and other criminal activities purportedly being perpetrated by wrong elements from South Sudan in Uganda’s hinterland.

Otoo also implored the governments of Uganda and South Sudan to expedite the process of redefining the common boundaries between the two countries in order to end the longstanding border disputes.

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