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DR Congo army, rangers accused of abductions

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Mr Frank Byaruhanga, the Mpungu LC5 councillor

Mr Frank Byaruhanga, the Mpungu LC5 councillor, speaks about abductions of residents by DR Congo officials on Wednesday. Photo by by Alfred Tumushabe 

By  ALFRED TUMUSHABE

Posted  Friday, August 29  2014 at  01:00

In Summary

Ugandans are allegedly taken to DR Congo during the harvest but are held until their relatives pay ransom.

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Kanungu- Kanungu District leaders have decried the rampant abduction of Ugandans living at the Uganda-DR Congo border in Kayonza Sub-county.

They said the residents are attacked and driven to DR Congo for weeks and months by the Congolese army, and are released after their relatives have paid heavy ransoms.

The practice has been going on since 2006, more especially in Kabumba- Buhoma in Mukono Parish in Kayonza Sub-county. Kabumba village straddles into both Uganda and DR Congo.

“Every year; around June, July and August, rangers and army from DR Congo government attack Ugandans in Kabumba and take them away in order to get money from their families.

This is the harvesting season. They (attackers) know Ugandans have money they have got from selling produce,” Ms Hope Kyaro, the area councillor and Kanungu District deputy speaker told the council on Wednesday.

Ms Kyaro said at least four people are abducted every harvesting season, tortured and forced to pay ransom as much as Shs500,000 each. She adds that more than 30 people have been taken and forced to pay money over the last eight years. She, however, did not provide names of those abducted.

The latest case happened on August 17 where four people; two women and two children were abducted from their gardens and held until August 23.
“It happens every year; they take people on the pretext that they are cultivating on DR Congo land. Yet this is not the case,” said Frank Byaruhanga, the Mpungu Sub-county councillor.

Council tasked the Resident District Commissioner and the district chairperson to explain why they have left people to suffer for this long.
Efforts to reach the DR Congo Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Jean-Charles Okot Lolakombe were futile as his known numbers were switched off.

Some cases
July 17, 2006: Three people were abducted, their farm tools taken. They were made to pay Shs 500,000 each before they were released.
July 5, 2008: One person was abducted and released after paying Shs200,000.
June 15, 2012: A woman was abducted and released after paying Shs250,000.

atumushabe@ug.nationmedia.com