Armed men suspected to be soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo ambushed and shot dead four Uganda police officers on Lake Albert in Ntoroko District on Saturday night.
The deceased officers, who were responding to an illegal fishing incident at Mulango on the Ugandan border, have been identified as Sergeant Faruk Waiswa, Corporal Biral Opara, Constable Moses Ocen and Constable Bernard Isingoma.
The DRC soldiers took the bodies of the four to the DR Congo side and also confiscated the Uganda Police Force speed boat and guns.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed the killings of the police officers.
“It is a sad incident for the Uganda Police Force to lose four of our officers who were carrying out their duties. Investigations to establish the attackers and their motive are still on on-going,” Mr Enanga said yesterday.
This is the first fatal incident between Uganda and DRC security officers on Lake Albert over fishing grounds. The incident could affect the relationship between the security agencies of the two countries whose borders on the Lake Albert are still not clearly demarcated.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs permanent secretary, Ambassador James Mugume, said Uganda’s Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr James Kinobe, had accordingly been briefed.
“We are appealing for calm as we sort out the issues surrounding the incident,” Amb. Mugume said by telephone last evening.
Uganda government officials, he said, will hold an emergency meeting in Kampala today to establish the facts of the attack after which they will formally communicate Uganda’s response.
Rwenzori Region police commander Denis Namuwoza said the bodies of the officers had been taken by DRC officers to Beni Township, north eastern DRC.
Mr Namuwoza said his officers were informed by Ugandan fishermen that Congolese nationals were illegally fishing on the Ugandan side.
“Four marine officers were sent to the scene to verify and enforce the law. Unfortunately, the Congolese were tipped off and they alerted their army before our officers reached the area. The DRC army ambushed our officers and shot them without any warning,” Mr Namuwoza said.
The Congolese army took charge of the boat and rifles before they sailed back to their base in Congo.
The recent incident
In the last five years, contests between Uganda and DRC on where fishing grounds lay have intensified on Lake Albert. Nearly three years ago, on May 29, 2013, Congolese soldiers arrested five Ugandan officers, including two police constables, and three fisheries officers on the same lake.
The Congolese officials disarmed, tortured and detained them in DRC for nine months. They were only released after President Museveni intervened during his visit to Kinshasa.
Since the arrests, Uganda has also responded by tightening border security, deploying more marine boats and heavily armed police officers. Recently, the police arrested 20 armed Congolese soldiers who had crossed into Uganda’s waters. However, the Congolese soldiers were later released after they were cautioned.
Source: The Monitor