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At least 20 houses were burnt following clashes between the immigrant bahuma cattle keepers and Alur farmers in Kigorobya Sub-county, Hoima District.The midwestern regional police commander, Mr Charles Ssebambulidde, said the two communities in Lenju village fought using clubs on Monday.

Seven suspects were arrested to assist in investigations and four cows were cut. Mr Ssebambulidde said eye witnesses told police that fighting broke out when a farmer found cattle grazing in his cotton garden.

The disenchanted farmer is said to have confronted the herdsmen whose cows had strayed into his garden. “The herdsmen assaulted and overpowered him. He retreated and mobilised his fellow farmers who then attacked the herdsmen and burnt 14 of their huts,” Mr Ssebambulidde told the media at his office in Hoima on Tuesday afternoon.

The herdsmen, who initially fled from their homes after being attacked, also mobilised themselves and torched six of the farmers’ huts, he said. Police has attributed the clashes to lack of clear land demarcations in the village which has caused interminable bitter misunderstandings between the two communities.

Mr Ssebambulidde said police has received reports that some families that were compensated in Kabaale parish in Buseruka Sub-county have settled in Lenju and Howa villages, which has heightened competition for land in the area. “Police have heavily deployed in the area. Law and order has been restored,” he said. The officer in charge of Hoima police station, Mr Reagan Ismail Magombe, rushed with a rapid response team to calm down the feuding communities.

Mr Magombe cautioned them against using unlawful means to settle their grievances. By press time, police was sensitisating the community about the importance of co-existence. The Kigorobya Sub-county district councillor, Mr Mugenyi Mulindambura, said such clashes have been regular in the area in recent years.

“They are as a result of immigrants disregarding traditional land use in our sub-county. Traditionally, land on top of the escarpment was earmarked for cultivation and areas in the Albertine escarpment are for fishing and grazing,” Mr Mulindambura said. “But lately you find some farmers tilling in areas zoned for grazing” Mr Mulindambura, who is also the Hoima District chairman of production and natural resources committee, said.

stronPrevious clashes in Bunyorostron

Bunyoro is a hotbed of land and ethnic disputes. In 2006, a group of Bagungu led by the Buliisa County MP, Mr Stephen Mukitale Biraahwa, clashed with the pastoralists and in the process more than 10 Bagungu including Mr Biraahwa got injured.

They were bickering over a chunk of land covering the villages of Waiga, Bugana, Kichoke and Kataleba in Buliisa District. In December 2012, ethnic clashes broke out at Runga landing site in Hoima District between the Alur and cattle keepers.

The clashes reportedly resulted from a dispute over land which is also adjacent to the oil sites in the Albertine grabben. Three people were killed, 25 huts burnt and scores of people sustained injuries in that clash.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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