JUNE 22, 2010: Army Kills Karamoja Warriors

Army Kills Karamoja Warriors
SOURCE: The Monitor
By Stephen Ariong
The UPDF on Sunday opened fire on Karamoja warriors fleeing from military custody in Moroto District, killing at least two. Residents, however, put the death toll of the gunfire, about a kilometer from the UPDF 5th Division headquarters, at eight, alleging that some of the victims died later in the bushes.

A team of military officers, including the UPDF 3rd Division spokesman, Capt. Henry Obbo, visited Rupe Sub-county where the shooting occurred yesterday morning and our correspondent, who accompanied them said he saw four dead bodies.

'Notorious warriors'

The suspects, described by Defence and Military Spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye as "notorious warriors who had killed some people", were scheduled for trial by the court martial next week when they attempted to escape. "They abused an opportunity to get sun bath," Lt. Col. Kulayigye said, indicating investigations into the killings are underway.

Local leaders in Moroto yesterday criticised the UPDF over the incident, saying the soldiers had shot to kill. "It is unfair because we are campaigning for the NRM and the people who are supposed to vote for the NRM are the ones who are losing their lives. How shall we convince these people?" Mr John Loput, a district councillor asked.

But Capt. Hillary Obbo who disputed the number of those reportedly killed, said the incident was not deliberate. "They were not killed intentionally but the soldiers were trying to scare them to stop because the number that was trying to escape was large - more than 10 suspects," he said by telephone.

The incident comes in the wake of Uganda Human Rights Commission report released last month which accused the UPDF of killing unarmed Karimojong and looting their cattle in the ongoing disarmament exercise in the remote sub-region.

While the UPDF says some of the reported cases by the UHRC had been found not to be true, President Museveni ordered the army inquiry headed by Lt. Col. Abdul Rugumayo and UPDF director for human rights, Maj. Moses Agaba, after receiving a dossier from Jie County MP Peter Lokii detailing harrowing tales. It is not clear how far the inquiry has reached.

More than 27, 523 illegal guns have reportedly been collected and 450 suspects prosecuted. The army estimates about 1, 000 small arms remaining in wrong hands.