Hundreds of Turkana pastoralists that had been grazing their livestock in Rupa and Lotisan sub-counties in Moroto district are running away back to their country Kenya, fearing they could be victims of a planned raid by joint security forces.
Currently, UPDF and Police Anti-Stock Theft Unit personnel have been heavily deployed to hunt down a group of armed rustlers believed to be Turkana and Karimojong who killed three geologists from the ministry of energy and mineral development together with two UPDF soldiers who had escorted the geologists.
The geologists were killed on Monday afternoon in Lokisilei village, in Lotisan sub-county where they had gone to do mineral mapping.
After killing them, the rustlers removed military uniforms from the dead soldiers and two guns which include one support weapon known as PK.
On Wednesday, after seeing unusual deployment of heavily armed UPDF and ASTU Police in Kobebe grazing area where the Turkana and Karimojong graze, the pastoralists started fleeing back fearing to be targeted.
Mathew Lokuruka one of the Turkana pastoralist told URN that their being innocent will not be respected.
“We are not sure what is going to happen this night with all the soldiers deployed here, it’s better for us to move back to Kenya even if it’s dry,” he said.
While adressing the media on Tuesday, Brig. Joseph Balikudembe, the 3rd division commander, warned that Karimojong and Turkana pastoralists have provoked the security which will now go for them.
Brig Balikudembe’s remarks were apparently backed up by Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba who is the commander of the land forces, who posted on his Twitter account that the forces would go with hell to Karamoja.
Micheal Longole, the Karamoja regional Police spokesperson however, said no matter fast the pastoralists flee, the security forces will follow them up to Kenya.
“We are ready for them now, we are tired of pleading for them,” he said.
Ambrose Lotuke, the former District Chairperson of Kotido said the army and police were now acting because the people killed were not Karimojong.
“We have been telling them that the situation is bad but they said it was normal, so whay are they deploying now?” he fumed