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Nine Injured in Fresh Bakonzo, Basongora Clashes in Kasese

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The clashes started when a group of Bakonzo armed with spears and pangas attacked the Basongora pastoralists who were grazing cattle, blowing up a conflict that has been brewing for years. seven cows were looted during the raid.
Police and later the army were called in to defuse the situation

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At least nine people were severely injured following land-related clashes between Basongora pastoralists and Bakonzo cultivators in Kabukero village, Karusandara sub-county in Kasese District on Sunday.

The clashes started when a group of Bakonzo armed with spears and pangas attacked the Basongora pastoralists who were grazing cattle, blowing up a conflict that has been brewing for years. seven cows were looted during the raid.

The injured include three Bakonzo cultivators and six Basongora herdsmen. According to the police, in the area, at least three people have been arrested as the search continues of the masterminds of the attack.

The Basongora communities were resettled in a piece of land measuring 1100 acres which were carved out of Mubuku Prison in 2017.  The Basongora had been forced out of Queen Elizabeth National Park.  The group had a year earlier been evicted out of Virunga National Park by the DR Congo government.

Later the Kasese district local government raised concerns about the existence of landless Bakonzo communities, prompting the government to give them a portion of the land. The land was distributed in the ratio of 3:1 acres for Basongora-Bakonzo respectively. But this triggered tensions among the two groups, each accusing the other of encroaching on its land.

Geoffrey Mutesa Ndahura, a resident of Kabukero told URN that the conflicts have been triggered by unending disagreements over the boundaries. The Basongora accuse Bakonzo communities of relying on the support of some political heads in the district to influence the change of boundaries while the Bakonzo feel that the Basongora are on the land under the influence of individuals in government.

Ndahura blames Kasese political leaders for ignoring the conflict that has been infusing since 2007.

//Cue in; “Abembezi ba kasese…

Cue out…hojugya naitwe nkabantu.”//

Agnes Thungu, a Mukonzo told URN that cows owned by the Basongora have been destroying their gardens and thinks this was a deliberate plot to chase the Bakonjo from the land, despite being legally allowed to stay there by the government.

//Cue in;  “Habwaki tibagwenda kubabinga…

Cue out…abo niba polisi ki?”//

Michael Mbagu who survived the attack with injuries on the forehead after he was attacked while grazing near River Sebwe wants the government to expeditiously open new boundaries. He says failure by government to act will force a section of them to retaliate for their lost cows.

//Cue in; “Nyowe babire banyisire…

Cue out…ziri hnu haihi.”//

The Kasese Resident district Commissioner-RDC Joe Walusimbi said they have dispatched a team of security forces to quell the situation. Walusimbi says his office had received information on the impending conflict but could not make immediate interventions due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

He confirmed that they have made some arrests of suspects believed to have participated in the raid.

//Cue in; “I ably wrote...

Cue out…to manage.”//

The long-standing land wrangle between the two tribes has been blamed for continuous clashes in the Rwenzori region. In 2018, when the then land commission led by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire visited the district, the local leaders led by the district chairman Geoffrey Bigogo accused the then RDC Col. James Mwesigye of siding with Basongora to acquire more acres of land.

Over 60 per cent of the land in Kasese is owned by the government.

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