What you need to know:
- The geologists, one of whom was an intern identified as Edna Musiime from Makerere University, are said to have been attacked and killed alongside their UPDF escorts on Monday afternoon as they were conducting mineral mapping in the area.
Security forces in Moroto District have recovered five bodies belonging to three geologists attached to Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and two Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers who were attacked by suspected cattle rustlers in the Karamoja sub region.
The geologists, one of whom was an intern identified as Edna Musiime from Makerere University, are said to have been attacked and killed alongside their UPDF escorts on Monday afternoon as they were conducting mineral mapping in the area.
The other victims were identified as Richard Kiggwwe, the lead geologist and his colleague, Charles Olweny. The soldiers are yet to be identified.
They had been assigned to pick soil samples from Lokisilei village in Lotisan Sub County in Moroto District. They were attacked about 40 kilometers away from Moroto town.
The rustlers are said to have also taken two guns from the deceased soldiers.
According to Brig Joseph Balikudembe, the UPDF 3rd division commander, the geologists and their security escorts were attacked “out of ignorance” by the suspected rustlers who have been wreaking havoc in the sub region for years.
He said the translator who was in the geologists’ company explained to the suspected armed rustlers their mission but his words fell on deaf ears as the assailants opened fire at them.
"The translator managed to flee to his safety but the geologists being new on the ground had no option but to accept to be killed in cold blood, “he said.
He said security forces are pursuing the assailants and that they will be apprehended because they can easily be tracked.
"They have provoked us (security personals) and now we are going for them wherever they are," Brig Balikudembe told this reporter on Tuesday evening.
By the rime of filing this story, the geologists’ bodies were still at Moroto Regional Referral Hospital mortuary pending postmortem before they are handed over to their families.
Early this month, Brig Gen Balikudembe said at least 251 suspected cattle rustlers were killed last year in the Karamoja sub-region by a joint force of police and the armyz.
He attributed most of the deaths to forceful disarmament operations.
Most suspected Karimojong warriors were killed following the relaunch of disarmament operations in the northeastern sub-region on July 17, 2021, Brig Gen Joseph Balikudembe, the 3rd division commander revealed.
In the same period, at least 1,626 suspected rustlers were arrested, 291 of whom have so far been prosecuted and a total of 14,898 livestock were recovered. Security forces also recovered at least 160 guns.
An estimate of about 500 illegal guns are still being kept by the suspected rustlers.