940 killed in disarmament exercise

At least 940 people majority of them civilians were killed during the disarmament exercise, according to the latest report by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF).

The report comes out just as the UPDF is winding down the disarmament program in the Teso and Karamoja regions.

Captain Deo Akiiki, the 3rd Division Army Spokesperson said  that 648 civilians and 290 soldiers were killed either in crossfire or ambushes between 2001 when the exercises started and September 2011.

He also said that 428 civilians and 303 soldiers were injured and a more than 100 ambushes were carried out by the warriors.

Describing the exercise as successful, Akiiki said they recovered a total of 57, 171 cattle, 29, 497 guns of different types mainly SMGs and 42, 284 ammunitions.

He said during the period more than 400 rustlers and 100 civilians were accordingly prosecuted and convicted in various courts. He described the situation in Karamoja as normal now after 10 years of rigorously pursuing the warriors to surrender illegal guns.

Security would have been stable, but cattle rustlers had resorted to using arrows and bows and the homemade guns. Akiiki said the UPDF will continue tracking cattle raids after the end of the disarmament operations.

He said the exercise restored stability in the region where cattle raids had undermined social-economic and political development.

However despite their successes in the disarmament exercise the UPDF have received numerous accusations from the right activist over alleged abuse of human rights during the period.

Lomnia Alerek, a resident of Katanga village in Moroto said that however much successes the UPDF registered in the exercise, the allegations of human rights abuse committed  should not be ignored.

He was demanding that the International and national human right bodies should intervene and investigate all the allegation of rights abuses registered against the UPDF soldiers during the exercise so as the perpetrators are brought to book.

He cited wanton murder, torture and rape among some of the abuses allegedly committed by the UPDF soldiers during the period.

But Captain Deo Akiiki said some cases of human rights abuse that were registered were investigated and perpetrators punished accordingly.

Illegal guns flooded the Karamoja region in 1979 when Idi Amin’s regime was overthrown and soldiers abandoned a major weapons armory at the now Moroto 3rd Infantry Division where the rustlers looted the weapons which they later used to carry out cattle rustling and other forms of crimes.

– Uganda Radio Network