Uganda’s army has killed 13 armed Karamojong tribal warriors in two separate attempted raids in the north-east of the country, a military spokesperson said on Thursday.
”Some warriors were going to raid and loot the trading centre,” said Henry Obbo, army spokesperson for north-east Uganda. ”Two died on the spot, then eight died on their way back from the gunfire.”
The first attack occurred on Tuesday in Kabong, one of the Karamoja region’s five districts. Karamoja is the least developed area of Uganda and suffers from extreme drought.
In the neighbouring town of Lokupoi, three other Karamojong warriors were killed in another clash with the army on the same day.
”In the cause of dispersing them, they tried to resist,” Obbo said. ”It [the military action] was just a reaction; they were going to cause a lot of harm on the civilians.”
In 2001, the government began forcefully disarming the Karamojong, who rely on illegal guns to steal cattle.
Despite reports of abuses, including summary executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and rape, Uganda says forceful disarmament is needed to restore order in the lawless area, which is rife with banditry and cattle-rustling.
Obbo said the programme has been a success, and that the recent deaths were the result of the first violent incidents in months.
”The Karamojong are now handing over their guns. The people are against cattle-rustling behaviour,” he said. — Sapa-AFP