Rebel attacks in Zombo worry residents

Thursday July 22 2021
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The Commander Land Forces, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba (left), assesses one of the guns captured from the rebels that attacked a UPDF detach last week. PHOTO/COURTESY

By Felix Warom Okello

Last week, a rebel commander who masterminded the March 20 attack on Oduk UPDF detach last year surrendered to  the UPDF security cycles.

Barely a week after, part of the same group attacked another detach in Zeu Sub-county in Zombo District, killing one soldier, while the army killed six rebels.

According to district security sources, the reasons for the attack are still unclear, raising fear among residents and questions of capacity of the security intelligence.

“We do not like these kinds of attacks on soldiers. We need peace and the local security officials should step up border patrol,” a resident of Lendu Parish in Zeu Sub-county, who preferred anonymity, said. 

“Why do these people come and launch their attack here and not in Congo?” the source wondered.

Residents identified one of the deceased rebels as Richard Lozama, a resident of Olu Central in Golaju Trading Centre in Zombo.

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The commander of the Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, blamed the first attack on the Co-operative for the Development of Congo (CODECO), a rebel group in Congo. However,  the group has not claimed responsibility . 

A statement by Defence and military spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso,  confirmed the soldier’s death.
She added that three soldiers who were injured were airlifted to Bombo General Military Hospital.

“We appeal to the community to remain calm as we continue coordinating with our Congolese counterparts to track down the group to avert future attack,” the statement read in part.

Former Zombo Woman MP and State Minister for Northern Uganda, Ms Grace Kwiyucwiny, called for community sensistisation.

“We need to sensitise people that this is not time for war. Northern Uganda and West Nile Sub-region have lagged behind because of war. This is the time for youth to protect and build their country. Youths should not be deceived by people who are fighting for their own interests,” Ms  Kwiyucwiny said.

Last year in August, the CODECO declared a unilateral ceasefire with Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi following wide condemnation by the UN to suspend attacks and massacres akin to crimes against humanity in the villages across DRC.

At the time of the ceasefire, the CODECO spokesperson, Basa Zukpa, was quoted by Africa News, saying: “We are ready to grasp this out-stretched hand, which is why we tell our people to first respect this process, to be calm while we move forward.”

The group was once an agricultural cooperative, before transforming into an armed rebel movement. 

The movement was reorganised under different leaders several times, becoming looser and less cohesive as time went on. 
Several of the militias that claim CODECO affiliation stand accused of massacres and war crimes by United Nations officials. 

It is described variously as an armed political-religious sect, an association of Lendu militias or a political-military sect.

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