Turkana warriors still arming Karimojong rustlers, says army

Turkana pastoralists water thier animals in Kobede, Moroto District, before they were flushed out by the UPDF in 2020. Photo/FILE

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This comes at a time when the sub-region is having a little respite, especially in the southern parts of Karamoja, but the army says some of the communities at the border are now forming criminal alliances with the Turkana.

The army has said a number of the Turkana warriors through some proxies have continued to arm the Karachuna warriors in Karamoja Sub-region despite the presidential executive order stopping armed elements from Kenya from entering Uganda.

On May 19, President Museveni issued Executive Order 3 that stopped armed elements of Turkana from crossing into Uganda until the issue of illegal entry of arms and criminals, who killed the Ugandan geologists, is resolved.

Maj Moses Amuya, the acting Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) 3rd division spokesperson, said in an interview at the weekend that despite the operational guidelines, the Turkana warriors have continued to sneak into Karamoja with firearms to rearm the Karimojong warriors, conducting raids, and kidnapping both civilians and soldiers.

He added that suspected Turkana warriors have previously exchanged fire with UPDF soldiers on routine patrol.

“During the engagement, four suspected Turkana warriors were neutralised in Magos Parish, Rupa Sub-county in Moroto District,” Maj Amuya said.

This incident comes at a time when the sub-region having a little respite, especially in the southern parts of Karamoja, but Maj Amuya said some of the communities at the border are now forming criminal alliances with the Turkana.

“We appeal to the Karimojong communities bordering the Republic of Kenya, who continue to harbour and collaborate with the Turkana cattle rustlers, to strongly desist from criminal acts as they stand to face the law. Likewise, the Turkana warriors are not immune to prosecution,” he said. 

In a different incident, the army also arrested the Lemusui Sub-county LC3 chairperson in Nakapiripirit District, Mr John Omet Lolima, over possession of firearms. He was arrested at Alapat Village in Katabok Parish last week and will be charged by the Military Court Martial for illegal possession of military stores.

The suspect is believed to have been hiring out the gun with the purpose of carrying out raids and terrorising the communities of Tokora, Kaiku and Namalu in Nakapiripirit District.

Meanwhile, Brig Gen Felix Busizoori, the deputy commander for the UPDF 3rd division, rallied communities in Katikikile Sub-county in Moroto District to surrender their illegal guns within seven days.

Gen Busizoori said several lives have been lost due to gun violence.

“For the sake of peacebuilding, I urge you to surrender all the guns within seven days,” he said. 

He also demanded that the Tepeth community hands over stolen cows back to the owners in Rupa Sub-county.

The Tepeth are an ethnic group of Ngi-Karimojong, who are settled both on the slopes of Mt Moroto and its foothills, whose mainstay like other ethnic grouping in Karamoja, is dependent on cattle.

Mr Mica Akasile Lolem, the Upe County MP, said peace engagements are the way to achieve lasting peace in Karamoja Sub-region.


About a decade ago, government launched a disarmament programme in Karamoja to guarantee security within the sub-region and her neighbourhood.

While the programme ended ambushes and large-scale raids in the region, there has recently been a gradual return of cattle rustling and ambushes in the region.