20 LDU deserters disappear with firearms in Karamoja

LDU

LDU's patrolling on the streets of Kampala. (Courtesy Photo)

The joint security team comprising police and the army is hunting for twenty local defence Unit personnel in Kaabong district who deserted with firearms. 

According to Capt. Edrine Mawanda, the UPDF 3rd division Spokesperson, the LDUs deserted the force with guns two months ago for unknown reasons. “These people deserted even before they were given numbers and so far, we have recovered 14 guns from them but we are hunting for the remaining hunting for 6 guns, “he said.

Mariko Lokol, a relative of one of the deserters, told URN that his brother James Angura, returned home and left a gun before disappearing to an unknown location. He said that Angura had all along complained of harsh treatment from the commanders at the detach, an allegation URN couldn’t independently verify. 

“One day he came crying when our livestock was stolen and he told us they wanted to come and fight back the raiders but their commanders blocked them, which I think brought all the issues of them deserting, “he said. 

According to Lokol, they last saw Angura two months ago when he brought the gun at home and disappeared.  “I was the one who picked the gun with four fully loaded magazines and took it back to the detachment, “he said. 
He claims that they left the force to support their relatives protect their livestock. “What disturbed us so much is when our cows are raided and when we are called by relatives to intervene our commanders don’t allow us to go yet a cow is our source of life,” he added.

Peter Dengel, the chairperson of Sidok peace committee explained that most youths are planning to desert the force to help protect their livestock. 

“I have been getting reports from these boys trained as LDUs of their commanders not allowing them to go and intervene when the raiders are taking away their livestock so to me it’s the key reason, “he said.

In 2010, the army recruited former Karimojong cattle rustlers on the orders of the president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to help consolidate peace in Karamoja. 
At least 20,000 LDUs were recruited but many have since deserted. Each LDU personnel earns Shillings 230,000 per month.

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