At least six people have been confirmed dead and 11 others severely injured in separate attacks by unknown assailants in the contested Apaa Township claimed by both Adjumani and Amuru districts.
The attacks according to information URN obtained happened between Thursday and Saturday in the parishes of Oyanga, Luru, and Acholi Ber in Itirikwa Sub-county, Adjumani district.
According to security reports, three of the deceased persons hail from the central Uganda while three others are local farmers of Madi origin. Their identities weren’t readily available by press time.
Charles Okoya, the LCI Chairperson of Apaa Township told URN on Sunday that the unknown assailants attacked their victims with machetes, bows, and arrows during the separate raids.
He says one of the victims of the attack was killed on Saturday at about 5 Pm in Luru Parish and the body burnt beyond recognition while another person was killed on Friday at about 11 Am from Rwot Romo village. The deceased are reportedly from unknown districts in Central Uganda.
Three other victims who are local farmers of Madi origin according to Okoya were killed between Thursday and Friday in Acholi Ber parish. Okoya says efforts to transport the bodies of the deceased had proved futile due to the prevailing insecurities in the area.
He adds that 11 people also sustained severe injuries from the separate attacks and are receiving medical treatment from various health facilities in Amuru and Adjumani districts. URN Couldn’t independently verify the figures by press time.
Peter Taban Data, the Adjuman Resident District Commissioner, confirmed the attacks to Uganda Radio Network in an interview Sunday adding that two other people were still missing.
He says hundreds of makeshift structures and grass-thatched huts have been razed down in the attacks in Zoka Central Forest Reserve by yet-to-be-identified arsonists.
Taban Data notes that the army has been deployed in the affected areas to beef up security, adding that an investigation is ongoing to understand what triggered the attacks and unearth the perpetrators behind the crimes.
Abraham Opira, a resident of Lulai village says the separate attacks have caused panic among community members in the neighboring villages where the attacks happened adding that many have since fled their homes fearing retaliation.
Opira called on the army to beef up the deployment of its personnel to guarantee the safety of lives and properties.
State Minister for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny told journalists at a press briefing in Gulu City Sunday there is a need to resolve the land conflicts peacefully without bloodshed.
By press time, the Fourth Infantry Division Commander Brig. Michael Kabango had visited the disputed area and met with affected persons and area local leaders.
The attacks come three months after four people were killed by unknown assailants in Te-Okono village between Acholi ber and Punu dyang Parishes. This brings to more than 30, the reported numbers of people so far killed in separate attacks on the disputed Apaa land since 2012 according to local leaders.
Conflicts over the Apaa land date back to 2012 when the government began the forceful eviction of locals occupying the area claiming it’s a gazetted East Madi Wildlife Reserve under the management of Uganda Wildlife Authority. Parts of the land are also claimed by the National Forestry Authority as gazetted Zoka Central Forest Reserve inside the Adjumani district.
Efforts by the government, political, religious, and traditional leaders to quell the tension between the communities of Acholi and the Madi have over the years been unsuccessful.
In August this year, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni commissioned the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Apaa land conflicts headed by retired Chief Justice Bart Katureebe as a last resort to solve the land conflicts. The Commission is however yet to kick start their work.