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Residents Abandon Villages in Kotido as Forceful Disarmament Intensifies

Local leaders in Kotido say that the residents have evacuated their homes and moved to sother sub counties to live with relatives, friends or in-laws for fear of being subjected to forceful disarmament that is currently on going in the sub region. Others have taken refuge in Kotido town, leaving only the elderly, the disabled and local council officials in the villages.
one of hte four choppers in Karamoja for disarmament in Karamoja

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Several Villages in Panyangara Sub County in Kotido district have been abandoned by residents following a forceful disarmament exercise that has displaced hundreds of residents.

Local leaders in Kotido say that the residents have left their homes and moved to other sub-counties to live with relatives, friends, or in-laws for fear of being subjected to forceful disarmament. Others have taken refuge in Kotido town, leaving only the elderly, the disabled, and local council officials in the villages.

The most affected villages include; Omokori, Naregae, Lomukura, Nakirioni, Awapet – all in Rikitae Parish in Panyangara Sub County.

Joseph Lodukan, the LCI Chairperson of Riktae Village, says that the people have all run away from homes to seek refuge elsewhere for fear of being arrested by the joint forces on suspicion of having illegal guns.

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The migration of the residents was sparked by heavy shelling early this week between the government soldiers and the warriors in the general areas of Panyangara.  The UPDF used both infantry and air support that left at least two warriors dead. One gun and several ammunition were recovered from the scene.

John Bosco Akore, a peace actor in Kotido also notes that the villagers have abandoned homes for fear of being arrested and charged with possession of illegal firearms in the court-martial. The community also fears that the UPDF might torture them during interrogation.

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The 3rd Division UPDF Spokesperson Capt. Edrin Mawanda says the fact that the residents have run away from their homes means that there are illegal guns in the community.

“We have information that they have left their homes and they are now in remote areas in Kalosarich near Toror Hills, but we shall pursue them to the very end. We shall not leave any weapons behind. The community should cooperate with our forces and expose all those with guns and we shall only handpick them not their family members,” Capt. Mawanda said.

The District Chairperson, Paul Lote however says some residents have stated returning homes despite the security operations in the district. He says the residents took refuge following Sunday’s clash between the UPDF soldiers and warriors coupled with operations to disarm the residents.

Acao Nyeniwa a member of the Peace Committee in Leletio Parish says that as Peace Committee members they have equally been affected and they have sought refuge elsewhere. He says they have been forced out of their homes as peace committee members they have abandoned homes because of death threats from the armed warriors.

During the first disarmament in the 1990s, the UPDF was accused of using torture. However, this time around, security agencies say they will use reasonable force on whoever refuses to disarm. Last week one warrior was shot in the leg when he contested arrest in Kacheri.

      

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