SOURCE: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
KAMPALA — A Ugandan lawmaker alleged Friday that the military killed 30 civilians in an air attack on suspected cattle rustlers, and demanded a UN probe into the incident.
The army disputed Peter Abrahams Lokii's account of the January 4 incident, which he said he personally witnessed, and accused him of "wasting time and playing politics".
Eastern region military spokesman Henry Obbo told AFP that the Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF) dispatched a helicopter gunship in pursuit of armed men accused of raiding cattle in Karamoja, a remote, chronically troubled area that borders Kenya and Sudan.
Lokii, who represents Kotido district in parliament, told AFP Friday that an estimated 30 people who were not involved in the cattle raid were killed during the UPDF operation.
"I personally saw it. I was in the district. People were killed, but we have not been able to establish the exact numbers," he said. "The people who went for the (cattle) raid are different from the people who were bombed."
"We have estimated the casualties at around 30 people," said the MP, a member of President Yoweri Museveni's ruling party.
He called for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to investigate the incident.
"We need an investigation into this matter, but you cannot trust the UPDF to investigate itself. UNOCHA needs to come in," he added.
Obbo insisted that the gunship never fired any weapons and was simply used to intimidate cattle raiders before they could distribute the stolen animals among their tribesmen.
"There is no cause for investigation because nothing happened," he told AFP.