DECEMBER 2, 2009: Soldiers Kill 22 in Fight With Rustlers

Soldiers Kill 22 in Fight With Rustlers
 
SOURCE: Monitor
 
By David Mafabi and Stephen Ariong

Nakapiripirit — At least 24 people were killed on Saturday in a Karimojong cattle raid gone bad in Nakapiripirit District.

Among the dead were two UPDF soldiers and an estimated 22 warriors though the numbers on both sides were expected to rise.

The Saturday deaths are the highest since the escalation of skirmishes in the vast volatile region teaming with gun-totting warriors who rustle cattle for a living despite ever-growing government determination to disarm them.

The army said the confrontation broke out after a group of Matheniko warriors rustled 100 head of cattle from Loratuk village, Lolachat sub-county in Nakapiripirit.

Cpl. Geoffrey Ebyiatu and Pte. Issa Cherop both attached to UPDF's 407 Brigade died during the exchange.

Local sources said heavily-armed Matheniko raided Lolachat at about 10am, overpowered the locals and rustled the cattle before the UPDF confronted them.

"When UPDF intercepted, they shot at them prompting a fire exchange that also claimed local herdsmen Locwa Echubai and Mariko Logalo and very many warriors," said a source who declined to be identified out of fear. "We don't know the number they could be around 40."

Nakapiripirit RDC Andrew Napaja confirmed the shoot-out but was non-committal on the number of deaths.

The UPDF 3rd Division Commander, Brig. Patrick Kankiriho, said the army had been provoked and that a sizeable number of warriors had been "put out of action".

He said: "We lost two soldiers but you know in the exchange of fire, there are many casualties. Most importantly is that we recovered all the animals and four guns from these warriors."

He added that the UPDF tried to restrain themselves but the situation dictated that they respond with fire.

"You know we don't want to kill but the situation forces (us) to. Like this time, I called the local leader about the warriors and he told me to shoot them. It is bad you know we were provoked, they shot at UPDF and we responded. What do you expect because even in holy places like Vatican people die," said Brig Kankiriho by phone.

According to Brig. Kankiriho, 70 per cent of the soldiers are to be withdrawn from the kraals in a new strategy that aims at involving the locals in the fight to end cattle raids....
 
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