Hoima. An exchange between residents of Kyabisagazi Village, Kigorobya Sub-couty in Hoima District, and a team of police officers on Tuesday night resulted in the death of one police officer.
Police had deployed in the area to conduct a security operation following a tip-off that unidentified foreigners had invaded the area.
One police officer, who declined to be named in order to speak freely, said the locals and security officials feared that the unidentified people could pose a security threat in the area.
“We went there to screen any suspicious individuals,” the police officer said.
The locals in Kyabisigazi Village are mainly cultivators and are said to be living on customary land and practising agriculture.
Kigorobya County has some oil wells and oil pipelines are expected to be constructed in the area.
These developments have increased the value of land in the area which has fueled multiple land disputes, creating tension and suspicion among locals.
Other sources claimed the police were aiding some unnamed investors to seal off people’s land.
The locals reportedly mobilised themselves, armed with stones, sticks and bows and arrows before surrounding the police officers.
According to witnesses, police attempted to calm down the residents in vain.
In the fracas, the residents reportedly disarmed one Policeman and killed him. Several other police officers fled after the incident.
The police have identified the deceased as constable Vincent Rutalemwa.
The commandant of the police Field Force Unit, Mr George Emoot, sustained injuries on the right leg and was rushed to Hoima Regional Referral Hospital.
“It appears he was shot with an arrow on the right leg,” one of the police officers said.
The Albertine regional police spokesperson, Mr Julius Hakiza, confirmed Rutalemwa’s death and said investigations are underway. “We have deployed in the area. We have recovered the gun and investigations are underway,” he told the Daily Monitor yesterday morning.
He said the perpetrators of the violence will be arrested and prosecuted.
According to witnesses, police found the riffle that was grabbed from the police officer abandoned in the bush.
The Resident District Commissioner, Mr Samuel Kisembo Araali, dismissed talks that the police operation was linked to a land dispute.
“The operation is part of our roles to ensure stability as a matter of national security,” Mr Kisembo, who chairs the Hoima District security committee, said.
He said the operation was jointly conducted by the UPDF and police.
In June 2017, residents of Runga Landing Site in Kigorobya Sub-county attacked and burnt Runga police post in protest after Mr William Okello, a resident of the area, died in police cells.
The angry residents, who were armed with spears, bows and arrows attacked the police post demanding to know the circumstances under which Okello died. Mr Okello had been arrested on suspicion of stealing a battery at Runga Landing Site. Locals accused police of torturing him to death.
After burning the police post, locals also burnt two houses of crime preventers that were adjacent to the police post.