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23 Ugandans Arrested Harvesting Bamboo in Disputed Area Released

The suspects were arrested in a disputed area along the border of Uganda and South Sudan while harvesting bamboo stems from a forest in the areas presumed to be within Ber Lobo village in Lokung East Sub County, Lamwo district.
The Ugandans after they were released by South Sudan authorities at Awenolwiyo border post on Tuesday

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23 Ugandan nationals who were arrested by South Sudan authorities over alleged criminal trespass and illegal harvest of natural resources have been released.

They were arrested last week in a disputed area along the border of Uganda and South Sudan while harvesting bamboo stems from a forest in Ber Lobo village in Lokung East Sub County, Lamwo District. 

On Tuesday,  the Lamwo Resident District Commissioner James Nabinson Kidega received the Ugandans at Awenolwiyo border post.

A police officer at Awenolwiyo immigration border post who preferred anonymity says the suspects were briefly held at Teten border post before being transferred to the police central division in Lubone for further investigations.

The source adds that while at Lubone Police central division, charges of illegally harvesting natural resources and criminal trespass into another foreign country had been preferred against the suspects.

Kidega says the release follows numerous negotiations with his counterparts in South Sudan.   He added that the areas where the suspects were arrested lie within Uganda and that both border communities have been sharing the resources.

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Kidega also called for investigations into claims that the suspects’ property and valuables including two axes, 28 pangas, phones, identification documents, and money were taken by the arresting officers.

The Commissioner for Magwi County, David Otoo however refuted allegations of torture and humiliations of the suspects. He however pledged to investigate the claims of holding on the property and valuables by the Bomah Chiefs and immigration officers.

Otto however noted that there have always been concerns from authorities about unscrupulous people from Uganda entering their territory and cutting down the forest cover despite a ban against the destruction of natural forest cover.

He also implored the governments of Uganda and South Sudan to expedite the process of redefining the common boundaries between the two countries in order to end the longstanding border disputes.

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