At least 17 people have been killed in Napak and Nabilatuk districts over the last two weeks in retaliatory cattle raids.
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.
He said since May 19 when he assumed office, eight people have been killed and more than 1,000 head of cattle stolen.
Mr Lokol accused some armed Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel of fanning the violence. He claimed that LDUs deployed in the area have gone on rampage following rumours that the army plans to disarm them.
The Nabilatuk chairperson said on Tuesday night, LDU personnel in their uniform raided 200 cattle from the district and took them to Amudat.
“The guns that are being used in revenge attacks between warriors in Napak and Nabilatuk districts are used by the LDUs.
The situation became worse when the Commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Peter Elwelu, announced that the army was planning to disarm all those recruited as LDU personnel from Karamoja,” he said.
Former Karimojong cattle rustlers, who voluntarily handed over their guns to government, were recruited as LDU personnel on the orders of President Museveni in 2010 after they complained of being idle. However, some of the LDUs have been implicated in cattle rustling, forcing Gen Elwelu in March this year to issue a statement, saying the army had arrived at a decision to ban their activities in Karamoja.
But Mr Lokol said the delayed disarmament of the LDUs has seen most of them misbehave.
Mr John Teko, a resident of Nabilatuk Sub-county, said lack of transparency among security forces in handing over the recovered animals to the rightful owners was another thing fuelling the revenge attacks.
“You find that a family loses 40 cows to raiders but the army only recovers 20 and no proper explanation is given to the family. This leaves that family with no option but to use other means to get back their animals,” he said.
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.
Former Karimojong cattle rustlers, who voluntarily handed over their guns to government, were recruited as LDU personnel on the orders of President Museveni in 2010. However, some of the LDUs have been implicated in cattle rustling, forcing the army in March this year to issue a statement, saying they were banning their activities in Karamoja.
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