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Residents Request For Firearms to Counter Armed Rustlers

According to Toodera, residents are concerned over the resurgence of the warriors who stage armed attacks to steal livestock, which often claims the lives of innocent civilians. The raiders also kidnap and rape women and girls.
Angry residents of Orom armed with machetes, axes, bows and arrows ready to pursue the warriors in 2015, Photo By Dan M Komakech.

Audio 5

Residents of Orom and Kiteny Sub Counties in Kitgum district want the government to revive and arm vigilante groups in areas that are prone to attacks by Karimajong cattle raiders. The Orom Sub County LC III Chairperson, Johnson Toodera Acellam, says that his office is overwhelmed with requests by the community for firearms to counter and pursueKarimajog warriors.  

Odera says residents are not pleased with the persistent incursions made by thewarriors who continue tormenting locals and flee back to Kabong andKotido districts through Rokot, Karurui and Lobanya in Kaceri Sub County.

According to Toodera, residents are concerned over the resurgence of the warriors who stage armed attacks to steal livestock, which often claims the lives of innocent civilians. The raiders also kidnap and rape women and girls.  

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The Orom Sub County LC V Councilor, Christine Oyella, says that the aggrieved residents want the vigilant groups dubbed Platoon 4 Mutuzo revived since they played a critical role in recovering stolen animals, countering attacks and repulsing the warriors in the ’90s.    

According to Oyella, the Platoon 4 Vigilantes used to consist of retired servicemen, ex-combatants and youth who were disarmed and disbanded by the government during the disarmament exercise in the early 2000s.   

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The Chua East MP, Margret Lamwaka Odwar reiterates that the Platoon 4 vigilantes who worked alongside the army helped in pacifying the area and reducing incidents of cattle thefts and killings perpetrated by the suspected Karamojong warriors in the 90s.

Lamwaka says residents attribute the continued attacks to the thin and limited security forces in the vicinity, adding that although the Anti Stock Theft unit, UPDF and other security agencies pursue the rustlers, only a few stolen animalshave been recovered.

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Lamwaka says that the residents have repeatedly lost animals, which has affected their only source of livelihoods since they use the cattle for ploughing while the goats are always sold to earn money for basic necessities and school fees.

Penina Apio, a resident of Toboi village in Gule parish, who lost over 100 goats last year, faults the government for being unenthusiastic by failing to provide security in the area and totally disarming the Karamojong rustlers.

She says efforts to recover their animals have not yielded positive results and wantsthe government’s intervention in beefing up security in the area and compensating them for their lost livelihoods.

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The UPDF 5th Division Commander, Brig. Gen. William Bainomugisha acknowledges the concerns by the locals on the injustices being perpetrated by the Karamojong. He, however, rejected the proposal to arm the locals to pursue the Karamojong warriors, saying it can be dangerous.

According to Bainomugisha, despite the government efforts to disarm the Karamojong warriors, the continued proliferation of illegal small firearms from SouthSudan and Kenya is to blame for gun violence in the areas neighbouring Karamojasub-region. 

Bainomugisha however stressed the need of beefing up security, enhance surveillance and continued disarmament of the Karimajongs.

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Kitgum Resident District Commissioner, William Komakech called on residents to be cautious in observing their livestock particularly during the dry season andmarket days since the armed bandits take advantage of such situations wherelocals abandon their animals unattended too.

The move comes barely days after the Government launched the voluntary surrendering of illegal firearms and small weapons in the hands of civilians in the Acholi sub-region as a means of minimizing gun violence for peaceful co-existence.