Revenge cattle raids in Karamoja got 17 people killed in Napak and Nabilatuk districts over the last two weeks as herdsmen staged retaliation raids on each other in the two districts.
According to leaders of the two districts, the cattle raids are on the increase and more lives will be lost if the government does not intervene.
Mr Paul Lokol, the Nabilatuk chairperson, told Daily Monitor yesterday that on a daily basis, lives are lost in cattle raids between the two districts. He said when one group raids from one village, the latter regroups and launches a retaliatory attack, leading to loss of lives and cattle, an account that has reportedly had more than 1,000 heads of cattle stolen.
Lokol also accused a section of armed Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel of fanning the violence. He claimed that LDUs deployed in the area have gone on a rampage following rumours that the army plans to disarm them and have been cited to have raided 200 cattle from the district and took them to Amudat.
He says; “The guns that are being used in revenge attacks between warriors in Napak and Nabilatuk districts are used by the LDUs,” a condition which he thinks was fueled by the Lt Gen Peter Elwelu’s announcement that the “army was planning to disarm all those recruited LDU personnel from Karamoja.”
In 2010, a section of Karimojong cattle rustlers voluntarily handed over their guns to the government and were recruited as LDUs. However, some have been implicated in cattle rustling which forced Gen Elwelu to issue a statement, saying the army had arrived at a decision to ban their activities in Karamoja in March this year.
Mr John Teko, a resident of Nabilatuk Sub-county, said the lack of transparency among security forces in handing over the recovered animals to the rightful owners was another thing fuelling the revenge attacks.
Ms Joyce Nakiru, a resident of Lorengechora Sub-county, observed that long detention of recovered animals by the army is also fuelling revenge attacks.
“How I wish UPDF soldiers handed over recovered animals to the rightful person on time rather than delaying because this creates suspicion from those who lost their cows,” she said.
Mr John Paul Kodet, the Napak District chairperson, said the revenge attacks between the Pian community of Nabilatuk and the Bokora of Napak have disrupted farming activities.
Mr Kodet cited the May 29 incident when Abura Mariko Apanaluk, a prominent chief in Nabwal Sub-county, was killed together with his son by a mob from the Bokora community who mistook him for a spy from the Pian community in Nabulatuk.
Brig Joseph Balikudembe, the UPDF 3rd Division commander, said the army has deployed enough personnel in the two districts and warned the locals to desist from the cattle raids.