Six killed in fresh Kabarole ethnic clashes

Wednesday September 14 2016

Police in Kabarole district investigating

Police in Kabarole district investigating clashes that left six dead on Wednesday evening at Butara Kabonero Sub-County. Photo by Felix Basiime 

By Francis Mugerwa, Francis Tusiime & Scovia Atuhaire

Two policemen and four civilians have been killed in a suspected tribal clash in in Kabonero Sub-county Kabarole District.

According to eye witnesses, a fight erupted between the Batooro and the Bakonzo in Bukara B village in Kabonero Sub-county at about 1pm on Wednesday.

Tension started when the Batooro, who had allegedly been assaulted reported the matter to Police that rushed in the area to apprehend the suspects. Kabarole District Police Commander, Mr Musa Tibakirana, confirmed the deaths on Wednesday in a telephone interview.

According to Police, three suspects were arrested on suspicion that they had assaulted the Batooro.

However, the Bakonzo in the area protested the arrest of three of their tribe mates and attacked a team of police officials with a view of securing their release.

The Rwenzori regional Police spokesperson Lydia Tumushabe said the attackers who were armed with spears and arrows killed Assistant Inspector of Police Simon Peter Apire and Police Constable Salvario Ochema.

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She said the attackers also injured police officials, Francisco Nsimaki, Benon Byaki and Ojok Polikap.

“In self-defence, the police shot dead five people. It was not intentional to kill them. The deceased are not yet identified,” Ms Tumushabe told the Daily Monitor by telephone on Wednesday.

A local leader who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter said tension has been brewing in the area with bickering between the Bakonzo and the Batooro. Rwenzori sub-region region is a hotbed of ethnic conflicts.

Earlier on, Kabarole Resident District Commissioner, Mr Stephen Asiimwe, said, “Yes there have been clashes today (Wednesday) evening in areas of the hilly Kabonero Sub-county, although others are referring to them as tribal clashes. Information so far I am receiving is that this is the same group that attacked Kasese and Bundibugyo districts in February and March”.

In July 2014, the authorities blamed intelligence failure that could have been at the heart of the ethnic clashes in the western Uganda districts of Kasese and Bundibugyo, where at least 90 people were killed.

Most of the dead said to be attackers, according to security sources, belonged to the Bakonzo, the majority ethnic tribe in the area. Following these attacks, President Museveni visited the sub-region and beefed up security.

Daily Monitor correspondents in western Uganda confirmed Police and the army deployment in the area to prevent further clashes.

Earlier, Daily Monitor analysis of the pre-attacks incidents indicated that the long standing land wrangle between the two antagonistic ethnic communities in Kasese, the majority Bakonzo cultivators and the minority Basongora pastoralists led to the 2014 ugly events – with attacks first happening in Hima area of Kasese, where 11 people were reportedly killed.

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