KARAMOJA: Uganda’s People’s Defense Forces and the Anti-Stock Theft Unit have said that more than 243 guns have been found by cattle thieves in Karamoja since the forceful disarmament exercise began in July of last year, and that more guns have been found since.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the disarmament of Karimojong warriors by force in July of last year because the area had become a dangerous place where locals’ kraals were raided every day and night, killing many people.
Both the UPDF and ASTU increased their presence in the area, including the deployment of more lethal weapons backed up by helicopters. The operations are headed by Brig. Gen. Joseph Balikuddembe, who is also the Third Division command, while ASTU is commanded by Commissioner of Police Erias Kasilabo.
In the last week, Brig. Felix Kulayigye, the UPDF Spokesperson, says 37 guns were recovered during operations against warriors. Earlier, ASTU and UPDF had recovered 206 guns, thus bringing the total number to 243.
Nevertheless, Brig. Kulayigye has declined to divulge how many of the guns recovered from warriors belong to Ugandan forces. Barely a month ago, a rumour emerged that 88 guns recovered from warriors had the markings of the UPDF and police, whereas the bullets were made by the Nakasongola ammunition factory.
Based on the allegations of soldiers and police officers sharing or selling guns to warriors, leaders in Karamoja demanded a change of security personnel, including commanders in the area. However, Brig. Kulayigye says security agencies have not in any way conspired with warriors, but instead the area’s local leaders have done so.
Some of the local leaders are benefiting from the cattle thefts. Local leaders rubbished our reports. Recently, the LC3 chairman died in the operations against the warriors. These allegations of guns coming from Nakasongola are not true. They come from neighboring countries like South Sudan and Kenya, “says Brig. Kulayigye.
Fred Enanga, the police spokesman, says that the bullets found on the bodies of warriors are the ones they took from dead soldiers and police officers, as well as from some police stations in the area.
At least 19,091 cows have been recovered, according to the UPDF and ASTU. President Museveni has also sent Brig. David Mugisha to back up Brig. Balikuddembe to fight cattle thieves in the Karamoja area.
Over 400 warriors have been killed, but the number of soldiers and police officers killed in fire exchanges has been kept secret, even though rumours put the number at 23.