10 Feared Kidnapped, 40 Huts Razed in Renewed Fight over Apaa land

A burnt hut in a previous attack on Apaa in Amuru district[File Photo]

Ten people are feared kidnapped in Juka B village in Amuru, sparking fears of renewed violence over the contested Apaa land claimed by both Adjumani and Amuru districts.

The attack, according to residents, was executed Friday evening  by men armed with machetes, spears, bows and arrows.

The attackers set more than 40 huts ablaze, locals said.

Bosco Atube, 46, a resident of Juka B said ten people from the village are missing with fear mounting that they could have been kidnapped by the attackers.

Mr Atube named the ten as: Justine Owor, Richard Ojok, David Ayella, Geoffrey Otukwo, Godfrey Akena, Michael Ojara, Alfred Kilara, Okot Labalpiny, Walter Komakech and Benson Okot.

“We are unsure of where our people have been taken. We want government to intervene and rescue them,” Atube said.

The LCIII Chairperson Pabbo Sub County, where Juka B is located, Mr Christopher Odongkara, confirmed the attack.

“We commend Police and Army that responded immediately to calm the  situation before it turned bloody,’’ said Odongkara.

Adjumani Resident District Commissioner, Mr Peter Taban Dada said on Monday that the attack on Juka B by elements from Adjumani was retaliatory. He called for peaceful coexistence.

“The Acholi and the Madi have for long lived in harmony. They have even intermarried amongst themselves. We are scheduling a meeting with the clan leaders from the two communities and security personnel to solve the dispute,’’ Dada said.

The RDC revealed that 10 people suspected to have participated in the attack are detained at Adjumani Central police.

The RDC said his office was unaware of the ten people said to have been kidnapped. He however promised to investigate the matter.

This latest incident comes in the wake of renewed government effort to bring to an end the long running dispute over the 40 square kilometers of land claimed by both Amuru and Adjumani.

Victims of the attack speak out

‘‘I have 16 children who depend on me. The attackers burnt all the food stuff we were supposed to depend on. I don’t know how I will survive because they [attackers] have also warned us not to plant anything in the garden this season,” said Bosco Atube.

Atube said the attackers wore uniforms resembling those of Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA).

Tonny Olinga, the he UWA commander for East Madi Wildlife game reserve however told this website that the alleged attackers are not from UWA.

“The area were the attack took place is outside of Zoka protected area. What happened (the attack) could be a tribal clash between the Madi and Acholi people,” Mr Olinga said on Monday.

Margaret Alanyo, 36, a mother of five said the attackers razed down four of her huts.

“This is not the first time my huts including all my household belongings have been razed down,’’ said Alanyo adding: ‘‘This is my home.  This is where I was born. We want the government to honor its commitment in ensuring the people in Apaa are protected but not tortured’’.

Alanyo fears that her child who sat for Primary Leaving Examination last year will be able to join secondary school as the crops she had hoped to sell for school fees were burnt by the attackers.

In December last year, the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda was appointed by President Museveni to oversee a committee set by the president to peacefully resolve the conflict over Apaa. In the same month, a negotiation meeting chaired by Dr Rugunda over the contentious land hit a snag after leaders from both Acholi and Adjumani District failed to agree on options of ending the long-running wrangle.