Kenya has freed two Ugandan soldiers who were detained at Busia Police Station for breaching security protocol at the border by crossing into the country illegally.
The release of the two soldiers attached to Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) follows hours of closed-door bilateral meeting between security officers from the two countries at the police station.
The officers in full jungle green uniforms and their driver were apprehended and disarmed on Kenyan soil Sunday morning while in pursuit of a vehicle that was transporting fish from Jinja, Uganda.
Busia County Commissioner Jacob Narengo and Uganda Resident District Commissioner Hussein Matanda who received the officers on behalf of Ugandan government led the talks that hastened their release.
“The two, alongside a driver, entered the country armed against the law. The action we took was to disarm and put them in custody. We have since established that the fish they were pursuing had already met tax obligations,” said Mr Narengo
The commissioner added that for the interest of the relationship between the two countries and the spirit of East Africa Community they decided to hand them over to Uganda authorities unconditionally for further investigations.
Mr Matanda lauded Kenyan authorities for handling the situation professionally and accepting to release the suspects.
“This is a crime committed by individual officers and not aggression from Ugandan government. Our subject of investigation will focus on why they crossed to Kenya armed while there are options they could have employed, including seeking help to intercept those they were pursuing,” he said.
He said the working relationship between the two countries is good having been firmed by cross-border commissioners’ forum.
“By the time they were intercepted they had left Uganda territory and crossed into Kenya having bypassed two gates armed with two riffles with four magazines which had 185 rounds of ammunition.”
The [Toyota] Camry car they were pursuing also had Uganda registration with all seats removed except the driver’s.
Mr Matanda did not rule out an extortion mission gone wrong and admitted the existence of fish cartels.
“Kenyans fear fish trading citing harassment and have decided to recruit Ugandans to buy fish on their behalf who conceal them for easy transportation.”