BUNDIBUGYO- A group of experts led by the police head of health services, Dr Moses Byaruhanga, yesterday exhumed 15 bodies from three mass graves in Bundibugyo District.
The mass graves in Bundimulombi village, Kirumya Sub-county were discovered by residents in the aftermath of the July 5 clashes. Simultaneous attacks in Bundibugyo, Kasese and Ntoroko districts left more than 90 people dead.
About 55 of the dead were buried by the army in a mass grave near Kanyamwirima Army Barracks on July 6. However, residents later discovered more mass graves in Kirumya Sub-county.
It is believed that the graves contained bodies of people either killed by the residents in reprisals or were fleeing attackers killed by residents and local security personnel.
The residents and local officials in Bundibugyo pressurised police to exhume the bodies for proper identification and descent burial.
Consequently, police secured a court order to carry out yesterday’s exercise, according to the western regional police commander, Mr Thomas Kasimo.
The team of experts that came on Wednesday had 20 doctors and nurses, including three senior pathologists. “We shall carry out the exhuming exercise and then take the bodies to Bundibugyo Hospital for postmortem to establish the cause of death,” said Dr Byaruhanga, the head of the team.
“We shall then take samples from the bodies and the claimants for a DNA test to establish relationship. The unclaimed bodies will remain in the mortuary in Bundibugyo for some time,” he told onlookers.
However, the Bundimulombi village LC I chairman, Mr Andrew Batalingaya, in whose area the graves are located, and most of the leaders in the sub-county were not present at the time of exhuming.
Residents said the local leaders and some people who they believe took part in burying the bodies in mass graves hid when the team of police, army and experts came to the area to exhume the bodies.
The doctors found five bodies in the first mass grave, two and eight in the subsequent mass graves that are about a kilometre apart.
However, the team of experts observed that the graves could have been tampered with lately according to the freshness of the soil on top.
Ms Asumin Biira, a resident, said: “Some of the bodies could have been removed at night when some people heard that exhuming would take place, secondly, during the killings, some bodies were tied with stones and thrown in Nyakiro swamp and were never buried.”
By press time, the team of experts was being led by residents to another mass grave in the same sub-county.