At least 23 of about 200 assailants who attacked a Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) base in Zombo Town on Thursday have been captured while 12 were killed.
“We cannot confirm the number of those killed right now because we are still pursuing some of them in the bush, but we have captured 23 of the attackers. The locals have been able to identify some of those killed in the operation.
Some of them are Lendu and some are locals. Today, some locals also lynched one of the men who escaped and was found with machetes,” the UPDF 4th Division spokesperson, Maj Caesar Olweny, said yesterday.
Asked whether the attackers have a base in the neighbouring DR Congo, Maj Olweny said: “Some of them had guns because they put some resistance to us as they fled to DR Congo, but we don’t know yet if they are based in Congo.”
By yesterday, residents of Oduk Village, Abira West Ward in Zombo Town Council and the other neighbouring villages were fleeing their homes following the attack on the UPDF base.
Women and young children were seen carrying luggage towards Paidha Town to seek refuge with their relatives.
The Thursday night attack took residents and security by surprise after the attackers burnt down 12 huts of the soldiers at the base.
Since Friday, a joint team of security forces has been pursuing the attackers in Ajere hill, a few kilometres from Zombo District local government offices. Some of the locals, who were fleeing but declined to be named, said they were living in fear.
“You cannot stay there because the place is now insecure. And the UPDF soldiers are firing a lot of gunshots. I have carried my child and other children to my relatives,” one of the women, who didn’t want to be mentioned, said.
Mr John Onega, a witness to the attack, said he first thought the attack was by thugs but only to hear a lot of gunfire in the army base.
“We were sleeping but shortly, we heard gunshots and nobody could come out. When I peeped through the window, I saw soldiers and some people in plain clothes running everywhere. One of the injured soldiers ran for safety at my neighbour’s home,” he said.
Our reporter in Paidha, who visited the mortuary, counted 12 bodies at Paidha Health Centre IV.
The bodies of the attackers were buried yesterday at a mass grave in Paidha Town Council because no relative showed up to claim the bodies.
By yesterday afternoon, on the third day of operations, gunshots were still being heard from Ajere Hill as joint forces continue to pursue the attackers up to DR Congo border.
Crackdown. Maj Olweny said they had not yet established the identity of the attackers but added that preliminary findings suggest the attackers belong to a cult group.
“We have termed this a cult group because many of those that we killed or captured had local herbs and charms tied on their hands and others in kavera (polythene bags) and bottles. This is similar to what happened in Kasese District,” he said.
The UPDF public relations officer for West Nile, Maj Daniel Kavuma, said: “Three soldiers died in the attack and a number of attackers were also killed.
Security forces working with local leaders are currently hunting those assailants as we establish the motive behind this crime,” he added.
The police public relations officer for West Nile, Ms Josephine Angucia, said two suspects had been arrested in connection with the attack.
“Everyone must be involved in matters of security because it affects all of us. I want to implore the people of Zombo to always be alert to avert any future threat.
We will continue with the joint operation until the attackers are flushed out of the hill,” she said.
By Daily Monitor