Two Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers were shot dead and another captured by Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers following clashes along the disputed Uganda-South Sudan border in Lamwo district on Tuesday.
Gunfire broke out on Tuesday afternoon after SPLA soldiers had reportedly mounted a roadblock about 1.5 kilometres inside Uganda’s territory from the Ngomoromo border post in Lokung sub-county.
The SPLA soldiers with a command base in Aparapadwanya, some six kilometres from Ngomoromo border, had shifted their roadblock from Otwilo to Lakolori, areas presumed to be on Ugandan territory early this week on unclear reasons.
According to Moses Akena, the Lamwo district police commander (DPC), fighting erupted after the UPDF, acting on intelligence reports that some SPLA soldiers were harassing locals at a newly erected roadblock on Ugandan territory, deployed to restore calm in the area.
The SPLA soldiers on seeing the UPDF approaching opened gunfire at them in an attempt to defend their position, Akena said.
“These men moved to the border part close to Ngomoromo and erected a road checkpoint and had been harassing the locals. When the UPDF at Ngomoromo got the information, they tried to intervene thinking it’s a light issue but on approaching, the SPLA soldiers just opened fire on them,” says Akena.
UPDF retaliated after being attacked and in the process killed two of the intruders and captured one.
The captured SPLA soldier was taken into detention at an undisclosed location for interrogation while processes are underway to repatriate bodies of the killed soldiers to South Sudan.
Joachim Ocan Opoka, Lokung LCIII Chairperson says the clashes have left many locals residing along with the border point in fear of harvesting their crops in the contested areas.
He called on the army to heightened security deployment along the contested area to ensure locals safely harvest their crops.
The Tuesday clashes come amidst concerted efforts among security personnel between the two nations to bolster relationships along the contested boundary in Ngomoromo following series of security dialogues.
In January last year, security personnel in Uganda and South Sudan formed a Joint Border Technical committee comprised of 13 members from each side to resolve the Ngomoromo Boundary dispute but their work has failed to bear fruits.
Efforts to demarcate Uganda-South Sudan 470 kilometers international borderline in Northern Uganda by the Joint Technical Committee of the African Union has been hanging in balance since 2016 following civil strife in Africa’s youngest nation.