- Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 0949 EAT on Thursday 2nd June 2022.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has denied media reports accusing the army of killing over 400 people in Moroto district during aerial bombings.
Early last week, local media quoted Emmanuel Chero, chairperson of Karamoja Youth Agenda Vision 2040 alleging that UPDF carried out aerial bombings in Nakabaat and Lotisan areas which left more than 400 people dead.
Chero claimed when armed rustlers killed three geologists and soldiers, the government deployed troops to hunt down the killers. He, however, says that the soldiers turned their anger against residents and started dropping bombs on manyattas (community homes), killing innocent people.
Likewise, former presidential candidate, Joseph Kabuleta accused the UPDF of committing several atrocities in the region under the guise of fighting cattle rustlers. However, Isaac Oware, UPDF 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson described the reports as fake and called on the public to ignore the claims.
“Our attention has been drawn to an article running in different media alleging that there was a silent genocide in Karamoja. The article is totally not true and the public should not rely on these falsehoods,” Oware said.
According to Oware, they are only aware of the killing of 385 warriors in different operations since the launch of the second phase of the disarmament exercise in July 2021. He explains that the ongoing operations are guided by rules of engagement and a code of conduct to save and protect all lives, adding that any serving officer who commits operational misconduct is liable to punishment.
He warned Chero to desist from making such sectarian sentiments and inciting the public, saying all leaders in the region should instead advocate for peace and security rather than sowing seeds of hatred and fear amongst the Karimojong community.
Defense ministry spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayige confirmed the aerial bombardments but said that if there were any casualties, the numbers were being exaggerated.
Bernard Lokong, Rupa sub-county youth chairperson, confirmed that the army bombed the river banks along Nakabaat but no death was reported since no civilian was allowed to cross into operation areas.