3 March 2017

Uganda: UPDF Soldiers Killed, Injured in Clashes With M23 Rebels

Photo: Abubaker Lubowa/Daily Monitor
(file photo).

A Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier was shot dead and another injured during a gunfire exchange between Ugandan troops and suspected M23 rebels in Kisoro district.

The deceased, identified as Lance Corporal David Ochuna and the injured, private John Jackie Kusuba attached to the UPDF 63 Battalion barracks, were shot as the army and game rangers exchanged gunfire with the rebels.

Fighting erupted when a group of suspected M23 rebels who were crossing into Uganda from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via Mgahinga Gorilla National Park resisted arrest by game rangers and UPDF on Tuesday.

One suspected M23 rebel was also shot dead in the fight. His body was buried at the government cemetery in Kisoro municipality on yesterday, Thursday.

Kisoro resident district commissioner Hajji Shafique Ssekandi says that three of the suspected rebels were arrested while others ran back to DRC. Ssekandi says the arrested rebels are being held at Kisoro police station. He however declined to divulge their identities.

He adds that the army is deployed in the area and along the border to diffuse ant rebel activity and possible retaliation by M23 fighters. However, Capt Arthur Timbaganya, the Second Division UPDF spokesperson told URN on phone today that UPDF has not yet confirmed the incident.

M23 is a rebel group that mutinied against the government in 2012, accusing the DRC government of disregarding a peace accord signed in 2009.

The militia was defeated the following year, and hundreds of fighters fled the country to Uganda. But in January this year, the government and residents of North Kivu said M23 fighters had returned from neighbouring Uganda.

This came shortly after the Uganda government announced that some of the former combatants being accommodated at Bihanga military training school had escaped while others could not be accounted for.

On January 22, the Uganda Police intercepted five more M23 ex-combatants in Kisoro district on their way to the DRC. Last month, some 53 former rebels were arrested in Mbarara on their way back home in DRC.

The group was sent back to Bihanga military training school in Ibanda district. The combatants are part of 270 former rebels who were confined at Bihanga following their defeat by the DRC government forces in 2014.



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