Security officials in the Albertine region have released and deported 35 Congolese fishermen who were arrested in the Lake Albert waters of Kikuube.
The Congolese fishermen were arrested on August 1, 2022 while carrying out fishing activities in the Ugandan waters near the Sebigoro landing site in the Kikuube district.
They were immediately whisked to Sebigoro landing site police station where they were detained on charges of illegal entry into Uganda and using illegal fishing gear, specifically fishing nets and boats.
Police say the fishermen allegedly crossed into the Ugandan waters with nine illegal boats and fishing nets that were also impounded and destroyed by the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit-FPU.
Major Richard Mafabi, the sector commander who is overseeing the FPU operations on Lake Albert, told Uganda Radio Network-URN in a telephone interview on Thursday morning that the fisheries protection unit-FPU personnel while conducting normal operations spotted the Congolese fishermen carrying out fishing activities near Sebigoro landing site and swung into action and arrested them.
He says they later liaised with their Congolese counterparts and deported the fishermen on Wednesday. The fishermen were from the landing sites of Kasenyi and Tchomia in the Ituri province in eastern DRC.
Amlan Tumusiime, the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner-RDC, says security is heightened along the Uganda-DRC border to ensure that no Congolese fishermen cross into the country to conduct fishing.
In April 2021, suspected Congolese militiamen were gunned down by Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) soldiers on the Lake Albert waters near the Kaiso landing site in Hoima. The two, Opio Ozelle and Singa Kowe, were killed in a fire exchange with Uganda Peoples Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers on April 9, 2020, after they were found robbing Ugandan fishermen. Five others were also arrested by the UPDF while on the lake.
The militiamen raided Lake Albert and crossed near Kaiso Landing Site in Buseruka sub-county Hoima district, where they put several Ugandan fishermen at gunpoint, ordering them to surrender their fishing gear including boats, fishing nets, engines, and hooks among others.
However, some of the Ugandan fishermen then alerted the UPDF, who rushed to their rescue. Before the UPDF soldiers could reach them, the suspected militiamen opened fire, leading to a fire exchange between them and the UPDF, and in the process, two of the militiamen were killed.
The bodies of the two killed Congolese nationals were later exhumed and handed over to the DRC government on May 28th, 2021.