Abducted fishermen worry colleagues, seek gov’t intervention to rescue

Abducted fishermen worry colleagues, seek gov’t intervention to rescue

KAARO KARUNGI |  HOIMA – Fishermen at Kaiso landing site in Hoima district are seeking government intervention to have their abducted colleagues freed from detention in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Initial information indicates that four-armed militiamen raided areas of Lake Albert near Kaiso landing site in Mbegu Parish and abducted 16 fishermen on March 14, 2021. The militiamen also robbed four fishing boats, four boat engines and several sets of fishing nets before crossing back to DRC with the loot.

Some of the abducted Ugandan fishermen are currently being held at Tchomia landing site, Bunia district in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. But their colleagues at Kaiso landing site are now asking Ugandan authorities to engage their counterparts in the DRC for their release.

Jackson Ndiba, a fisherman at Kaiso fears that their colleagues lives are at risk, adding that the government needs to immediately intervene and rescue them from the hands of the militiamen.

Philemon Kazingufu, another fisherman wonders why the government has not taken any interest to have the abducted Ugandans freed yet the relevant government authorities have been alerted.

Richard Okethwengu, a relative to three of the abducted fishermen explained that without immediate government intervention, their relatives lives could be at stake.

Julius Hakiza, the Albertine region police spokesperson explains that efforts are being made to engage the DRC authorities to forge a way forward on how the Ugandans can be set free.

Attacks by suspected militiamen on Lake Albert have been rampant since 2018. In October 2020, suspected armed militiamen raided Lake Albert where they abducted 16 fishermen, robbed 20 boat engines and 20 fishing boats. The incident happened near Kaiso and Kijangi landing sites in Buseruka sub-county, Hoima district and Sebigoro landing site in Kabwoya sub-county, Kikuube district.

In April 2020, two suspected militiamen were gunned down in a fire exchange between the militia and the UPDF soldiers. The two later identified as Ozelle Opio, 25, and another only identified as Singa were part of the group that invaded the landing site near Kaiso in Buseruka sub-county where they put several Ugandan fishermen at gunpoint, ordering them to surrender their fishing gears.

In the process, some Ugandan fishermen sneaked off and alerted the UPDF who rushed to their rescue. But before the UPDF soldiers could reach them, the suspected militiamen opened fire leading to an exchange between them and the army. The UPDF also recovered three AK-47 guns with 47 rounds of ammunition that the militiamen were using at the time they were rounded up.




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