- Jan 30, 2008
Ugandans seize Kenyan cattle
Karamojong warriors sit with their weapons during an operation dubbed 'cordon and search' by the Ugandan army in Looyakaromwae village, 25 km from Moroto, in eastern Uganda.
By EDWARD KOECH and WYCLIFF KIPSANG
Ugandan soldiers have impounded 1,000 cattle belonging to pastoralists from Kenya, to force the herdsmen to surrender illegal weapons in a disarmament being carried out on the Kenya-Uganda border.
Thirty councillors from Pokot North District said heavily armed Uganda People's Defence Force soldiers on foot patrol and military tanks raided villages where Pokot pastoralists settled after migrating from Kenya, and impounded 977 animals, demanding guns.
Thousands of herdsmen with more than 100,000 cattle crossed the border to Moroto, Amudat and Nakapiripirit districts of Uganda in search of pasture and water due to a drought back home.
Councillor James Karumet claimed the soldiers were slaughtering and feasting on the animals and appealed to Internal Security minister George Saitoti to intervene and have the animals released to their owners.
"Not all Pokots have firearms; they should pursue those they suspect are keeping illegal weapons and leave majority of our people who have been forced to migrate to the neighbouring country due to the current severe drought," Mr Karumet said in Kacheliba Town.
Last week, the Ugandan soldiers raided several Pokot manyattas in Nakapiripirit district, impounded thousands of animals and arrested 13 people on suspicion that they had guns.
During the operation, the soldiers clashed with herdsmen, resulting in the killing of eight soldiers and six pastoralists in a shootout.
Pokot North District commissioner Joseph Motari travelled to Uganda and held talks with the Nakapiripirit DC, Mr Robert Napaja and secured the release of the detainees.
"We have initiated talks with our counterparts in Uganda to have all the animals released to our herdsmen," Mr Motari said.
Back home, more than 4,000 people who had been displaced from their homes in the cattle rustling-prone Mukutani Division in Marigat District were finally taken back to their homes by the government on Thursday.
The move was coordinated by Marigat DC Geoffrey Taragon and his East Pokot counterpart, Mr Amos Mariba.
Addressing the Ilchamus and Pokot communities, which have been engaging in cattle raids at Mukutani, Mr Taragon urged them to coexist peacefully and do away with retrogressive cultural practices.
"This is the only way to alleviate rampant levels of poverty," the administrator said.
Mr Mariba appealed to those who have settled in schools, hospitals and other public utilities to move out as plans to renovate them were under way.
He warned chiefs who incite herders that they will be dealt with firmly.
The two leaders also said that relief food and other humanitarian aid would be supplied to the families as they start their lives afresh.