AGAGO, UGANDA: Thousands of residents in four villages in Lira Kato Sub-county, Agago District, have fled their homes following constant brutal raids perpetrated by suspected Karamojong cattle rustlers against the civilian population.
The affected villages are Tekato, Aywee, Lela-Karya, and Obur-Gulu. The victims include those found digging, sleeping in their houses, or going about their businesses.
According to local reports, the most recent attack that forced people out of their homes occurred on Friday night. That fateful day, unknown gunmen raided three homes in Tekato Village, Lira Kato Sub-county. They robbed an unspecified amount of money, murdered three people, and injured four others.
The victims were identified as James Ononyo, 18, John Omona, 45, and Gabriel Oyugi, 35, all residents of Ter Kato Village.
The injured included Ms Pamela Apili, Mr Charles Ojok, Mr Okidi, and Ms Christine Lanyero. They have been treated at Dr Ambrosial Hospital in Kalongo.
The LC5 councillor of Lira-Kato Subcounty, Mr Alexander Okidi told this publication that after the victims’ burial on Monday, people fled their homes for safety.
Currently, the survivors live with friends, in-laws, and relatives in neighbouring districts in the Lango and Acholi sub-regions.
“It is true, last Friday, they killed three people from the same village. We conducted the burial on Monday, and immediately after the burial people started leaving their homes,” Mr Okidi said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
“Right now, I can confirm people have left four villages because the Karamojong rustles no longer want to raid. Their mission is simply to kill, and that is why people leave their homes. We have talked to army commanders and they complain of manpower shortages,” he added.
Earlier, police and local leaders in Agago acknowledged that raids were a big issue and concern for Ugandans.
The area head of security as well as the Resident District Commissioner, Mr James Nabinson Kidega, and the Agago District chairman, Mr Leonard Ojok Opio, on Wednesday did not answer our repeated phone calls to their known numbers.
To tell the world about what the people are facing, a concerned citizen captured a video of fleeing residents and shared it on social media, and the short video clip has since gone viral.
However, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) 5th Division spokesperson, Maj Stephen Tumwesigye, described the video as fake.
“It is not true, I’ve also seen that video clip. That clip was recorded on the day three people gunned down by unknown assailants were buried. The locals were carrying some of the items they had used during the burial and were returning them to their homes but not fleeing,” Maj Tumwesigye said of the video clip that shows people from victims’ burials getting back to their homes.
“If there is anything, I will tell you the truth because you can’t hide anything under the sun, especially in this 21st century where everyone is a journalist,” he added.
“People are in their homes and going about their normal duties but of course, there was fear when the first group was attacked and killed. The video clip making rounds on social media is of people returning to their homes after the burial. You know in our local community setting when someone dies, people carry saucepans, baskets, and food to help the bereaved family. After that, they take them back to their homes when the burial is done.”
Since 2022, assailants armed with guns, bows, and arrows have launched sporadic attacks against business people and farmers in Agago. This has resulted in 46 deaths, according to official statistics.