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Ugandan soldiers rough up, detain Kenyan police in Lake Victoria

Ugandan soldiers are detaining three Kenyan security officers in what could be the latest controversy surrounding fishing rights in Lake Victoria.

The officers were arrested and disarmed by the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers on Monday near Mageta and Hama Islands in Lake Victoria and taken to the neighbouring country by boat.

Witnesses told the Nation that the officers’ guns were taken away as were their phones before they were taken to Bugiri Mainland Prison in Uganda at about 6pm.

Area Police Commandant Patrick Lumumba said the 3pm incident involved up to eight soldiers on patrol.

The officers, he said, were rounded up and put together with Kenyan fishermen found catching fish in Ugandan waters.

Lumumba said the attackers, who were heavily armed, first hijacked five Kenyan boats and took away their engines.

“Our officers were overpowered by the heavily armed attackers who lay an ambush on the officers who assumed they were civilians and fishermen,” said Lumumba.

Nyanza Regional Commissioner Moffat Kangi was set to visit the area to try and resolve the tiff.

It is the second such high-profile detention by Ugandan authorities guarding the lake.

In November last year, the Foreign ministry had to intervene after 17 fishermen in Homa Bay were arrested and detained in Uganda over illegal fishing.

Fines

A number of the fishermen claimed they were forced to pay fines before they were released.

While Kenya sends police officers to patrol the lake, Uganda has the Special Forces Command, a unit of the UPDF.

In February this year, President Museveni argued he sends the military because his police officers and the marine authorities were too corrupt to protect Ugandan fish.

In the area, fishermen are up in arms and do not intend to hold more meetings.

They are instead demanding for a patrol team that equipped with sophisticated weapons to match their Ugandan counterparts.

Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda expressed his displeasure at the reluctance of the Kenyan government to swing into action.

“It is very unfortunate that Kenyan security officers are being held unlawfully in the neighbouring country yet the government has not given any statement concerning the same,” said Mr Ochanda.

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