Hoima clashes: Residents flee homes

Hoima. Hundreds of residents of Lenju village in Kigorobya Sub-county have fled from their homes in fear of fresh fighting breaking out and possible arrest by police.

The village is desolate. The 20 huts which were burnt when fighting broke out between the Alur cultivators and Bahuma pastoralists on Monday, are a shell of their former self.

Property is strewn all over the homesteads while unspecified belongings were burnt. The circular walls are filled with ash. There is soot and the itchy smell of the burning in the air. The village is gripped by tension.

Residents are not yet sure of their safety. Several houses are locked while many residents are fleeing with their luggage and children to either Lake Albert shores or as far as Nebbi District. Even those who have shown bravery to stay around spoke in fear. Some suspected this reporter was an undercover police officer trying to incrininate them.

Mr James Sande, 27, whose house was torched and mother was assaulted in the attacks says: “We are living in fear of being attacked again. We are at the mercy of police. I lost money, all household items and a solar panel,” Sande said.

Mr John Susu, 38, a pastoralist who grazes on a 400 acre piece of land claims he and all pastoralists in the area either hide in bushes at night or gather at police outposts for safety. However, there are conflicting accounts from both the pastoralists and the cultivators over the cause and how the clashes unfolded.

Mr Alex Warom, 28, an Alur farmer claims he heard an alarm from his brother, one Bedi who had been intercepted and assaulted by pastoralists.Mr Raphael Fonio, 58, an Alur elder claims the tension has been simmering in the area since pastoralists’ cows would stray either at night or during the day into gardens.

“They grazed cows in the garden of Ojok Waikam and we reported the matter to the LC I chairman and Hanga Police Post. Misaki Rurangira paid a fine of Shs 100,000 which did not go down well with pastoralists,” Mr Fonio narrated.

The Midwestern regional police commander, Mr Charles Ssebambulidde, said police has heavily deployed in the area to prevent any fresh attacks. According to the officer in charge of Hoima Police Station, Mr Reagan Magombe, seven suspects, including the Lenju LCI chairman, Mr Komakeck Francis, are detained.

Meanwhile, today police exhumes bodies that were buried in the Rwenzori sub region following viloent clashes last week.


SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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