Army recovers 56 guns in Karamoja

Tuesday February 12 2019

Disarmament. UPDF during an exercise to recover

Disarmament. UPDF during an exercise to recover guns from Karimajong warriors in Moroto District on March 29, 2007. FILE PHOTO  

By Steven Ariong

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces have recovered 56 guns and 797 bullets from Karimojong rustlers.

The arms and ammunition were recovered from the seven districts of Karamoja Sub-region that include Kaabong, Abim, Kotido, Moroto, Amudat, Napak and Nakapiripirit, during the disarmament exercise from January to December 2018.

The UPDF 3rd Division spokesperson, Capt Abert Arinaitwe, yesterday said the weapons were recovered through cordon and search operations in order to curb direct gunfire exchange between the rustlers.

He said the recovery of the guns in Karamoja is evidence that guns are still being kept among Karimojong for carrying out raids.
Last year, religious leaders and political leaders in Karamoja demanded for the review of disarmament to ascertain whether the region was peaceful.

Rt Rev Joseph Abura, the Bishop of Church of Uganda Karamoja Diocese, said since government launched disarmament exercise in 2003 in Karamoja, the government has not briefed the leaders of the region on how far they have gone with the exercise.
“We need government to tell us how far the exercise has gone and if it’s possible let it (government) declare Karamoja free of guns,” he said.

Violence and lawlessness had for many years reigned in Karamoja Sub-region due to illegal possession of guns by the Karimojong which perpetuated cattle rustling within and outside the sub-region.

Government then launched a forceful but peaceful disarmament exercise in 2001 and statistics show that by September 2013, the army had recovered 31,892 guns and more than 20,000 bullets.

President Museveni then ordered for the recruitment of the disarmed Karimojong as Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel where they were paid monthly salaries to help the army trace the remaining warriors who had refused to hand over their guns.

However, Capt Arinatiwe said it was too early to declare Karamoja a gun-free zone given the fact that the army is still recovering guns from the sub-region.

“Leaders need to be patient because more guns are still being kept although they are fearing to use them openly,” he said.