Nine suspected Karimojong cattle rustlers have been shot dead in a span of three weeks in Otuke District, authorities have said.
Mr Robert Abak, the outgoing Resident District Commissioner (RDC), at the weekend said the suspects were killed in an operation against cattle rustling.
He said since December last year, more than 120 animals had been recovered by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU).
“From then, we have not lost any animal to the Karimojong warriors. They have been trying to steal but we catch them before they can escape. Up to now, they are still stealthily roaming within Otuke and Alebtong districts,” Mr Abak said.
He also said they had deployed ASTU and UPDF officers at the borders of the two districts to ensure safety of people and their property.
“We have also embarked on sensitising the local communities to be vigilant. Sometimes they (suspected Karimojong cattle rustlers) come when they are armed and engage in gunfight with our security officers. Since their motive is to steal animals, security always engages them. There was a battle between the cattle rustlers and soldiers at Obalanga in Ogwete Sub-county where six of them were killed,” the RDC said.
Mr Abak said one AK47 rifle was recovered last week when the suspects engaged in a fire exchange with the UPDF soldiers at Got-Ojwang Parish in Ogwete Sub-county in Otuke.
“Three of them were also killed in that engagement and one rifle was recovered from them. The operation is not only being done in Otuke and Alebtong but we have also started to collaborate with our sister security officers in Kapelebyong, Abim and Agago districts, where they have been attacks recently,” he added.
Mr Abak also said the recent attack is creating fear among the local communities,” urging local residents to report suspicious individuals in their community.
Mr Moses Adungu, the chairperson of Lokitaelebu Sub-county in Kotido District, said the armed men are misguided and unemployed youth are trying to gain from stealing under the pretext of Karimojong people.
“Those are the warriors who think they can survive by stealing but that does not represent the act of everyone here in Karamoja,” he said at the weekend.
Mr Francis Otyama, the chairperson of Olilim Sub-county, said series of attacks have been in Otitilo, Bar-dago, Anamokokongo and Ogam-adu villages in Got-Ojwang parish.
“There is already a lot of fear in the community and people have started moving their animals out of the district. Some have taken their cattle to Alebtong and Lira districts for safety,” Mr Otyama said.
He said plans are underway to gather all the cattle in the high risk sub-counties of Olilim, Ogwete and Ogor in one area for safety.
He said the gazetted place will be under the UPDF and ASTU protection.