What you need to know:
- Confirming the shoot–out, UPDF said “One of about four suspected South Sudanese cattle thieves was put out of action."
- On Saturday, the army voiced determination “to ensure that the West Nile borderline is safe and secure.”
A group of armed men suspected to be from South Sudan on Friday night at raided Tunzia cell in Midigo Town Council, Yumbe District allegedly with the aim of stealing cattle in the area.
Mr Gasper Onzima, the LC3 chairperson for Midigo town council, said the gunmen upon entry into Uganda, abducted one of the residents identified as Muhammad Abega and instructed him to take them the different homes where animals such as cattle, goats and chicken were believed to be.
"Our LCs from where the incident happened called us and immediately we had to inform UPDF of Morta Bridge and Kupia barracks where deployment was done immediately. The UPDF got the suspected cattle raiders before crossing the borderline and there was exchange of fire that led to the death of one of them," he said.
According to him, the unidentified deceased raider was wearing a South Sudan army uniform bearing the rank of major.
"What we did as the government and the army is to bury the deceased on Ugandan side in Kandiyo but the abducted man was rescued. At least 17 goats and 15 heads of cattle were also recovered. We resolved in a security meeting that those who have settled close to the border, especially near River Kaya shift to Kandiyo because it will be hard to come to their rescue in case something happens to them as the UPDF barracks is far," Mr Onzima added.
Capt Ahmad Hassan Kato, the UPDF Public Relations officer for the fourth division confirmed the incident and said “four suspected cattle raiders suspected to be South Sudanese carrying goat meat and three chicken came into contact with our forces along Kandiyo-Tululu road in Tunzia village, Mocha Parish, in Midigo Town Council.”
"One of the four was put out of action and an SMG gun with number 1961MQ0238 with 26 rounds of ammunition was recovered while the three escaped back to South Sudan. We appeal to the community of Kerwa, Midigo and Kochi sub counties in Yumbe District that shares the borderline with South Sudan to be extra vigilant and not let their animals loiter anyhow because they can easily be a soft targets for the thieves. We shall continue to practice our mandate to ensure that our West Nile borderline is safe and secure to include the protection of the lives and property of Ugandans," Capt Kato said.
Some unconfirmed reports claimed that the suspected cattle raiders belonged to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army In Opposition (SPLA-IO).
However, Col Paul Lam of SPLA-IO said he was not aware about the incident.
"I'm not aware of this information but I will get in touch with our SPLA-IO Commander and the Ugandan forces then inform you," Col Lam said.