NTOROKO. The UPDF has deployed heavily in the Rwenzori region that covers parts of Kasese, Kabarole, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts to hunt for attackers responsible for killings in the region.
In an operation code-named “Usalama Rwenzori (Peace in Rwenzori),” that will tentatively last 60 days, the army says it will dominate the ranges, flush out any criminal elements and destroy their bases.
The UPDF 2nd Division commander, Brig Peter Elwelu, said the army will restore sanity in the region and end fear that has gripped residents for several weeks now. He said the soldiers will spend some time combing the slopes of Mount Rwenzori.
“The operation will be two-phased; to capture and dominate the mountains. We want an end to destruction of property and killings,” Brig Elwelu said at Rwamabale in Ntoroko District. “If you refuse to cooperate and surrender, we shall deal with you,” he warned.
Brig Elwelu on Tuesday met the Rwenzururu king Omusinga Wesley Mumbere, in what appeared as the start of peace talks that will lower tensions between the armed forces and the traditional institution, which police has accused of fanning the violence and harbouring attackers.
Brig Elwelu was shown on national television as he was thoroughly checked by the royal guards who did not allow him and his police counterparts to enter the Omusinga’s palace with guns or communication gadgets.
The deployment follows attacks on civilians, police and army in Kasese and Bundibugyo since last month where the conflict has left more than 45 people dead. “Yes, we have deployed mainly in Kasese, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo following attacks on civilians, police and the army,” said Maj Ronald Kakurungu, the UPDF spokesman for the 2nd Division.
President Museveni, the commander in chief of the armed forces, last week visited the area and promised to pursue the attackers even if it meant crossing to neighbouring DRC. The president, who has camped in Fort Portal since Tuesday night, is said to be meeting several leaders in the region at the state lodge. They include cultural leaders from Kasese and Bundibugyo districts.
According to the army, the soldiers have been deployed to quell the attacks. The attackers are said to be having bases in the Rwenzori Mountains.
While Bundibugyo seems to be calm for now, there is still high tension in Kasese.