Five People including a retired police officer have been killed and 12 others admitted at Masaka regional referral Hospital after being attacked and hacked by unknown thugs in Lwengo and Bukomansimbi districts.
The incident happened between midnight and 2am as Ugandans were celebrating the New Year just hours after president Museveni assured Ugandans of security.
Unknown assailants armed with guns, pangas and clubs moved from village to village robbing and hacking people.
The attacked villages are Kiryasaaka located in Kkingo Sub County in Lwengo district, Kisojjo, Kyabagoma and Kyamabaale in Kibinge Sub County in Bukomansimbi district.
Those killed were identified as Denis Ssebugwawo Lumala, a retired police officer who was hacked several times on the head. Others are Jane Nantale, John Sseremba and Gonzaga Kayemba and another unidentified man. All these were killed in Kisojjo, Kyabagoma and Kiryasaaka. All these villages are neighbouring each other.
Ssebugwawo's daughter, 15-year-old Nancy Nambuya, is admitted at Masaka regional referral hospital with head injuries.
Dick Muwanga, the Kkingo LC3 Chairman who rushed to Kiryasaaka trading centre, says at least seven homes were attacked in this area leaving several injured.
Muwanga notes that the thugs exploited the New Year celebrations when people were making all sorts of noise. He says it was very difficult for the rescue mission because even those that called for help could not get it since all people were in celebrations.
At Kisojjo village where Denis Ssebugwawo Lumala, a retired police officer was killed, the whole community is in shock.
His wife Hadijja Nakanwagi says the thugs gained access to their house using the backdoor after hitting it pen with a huge stone. Nakanwagi explains that the thugs were about four in number. She says they first asked for money and her husband gave them Shs35,000.
She, however, says they demanded for more money but her husband told them that the money had been paid to one herdsman to buy a cow for their upcoming family function. According to Nakanwagi, the thugs became very bitter and they hacked Ssebugwawo on the head.
His son, Stephen Nkalubo, adds that at this point, they made an alarm which prompted the attackers to hit her younger sister Nambuya on the head and she collapsed. Nkalubo says he escaped and ran away.
Mr Isaac Lwanga, a district councillor blames the insecurity on lack of police presence in the area. He says most of these areas have no police despite the fact that they have a big population with several trading centres.
Mr Mukasa Kityo, the Bukomansimbi Resident District Commissioner (RDC), says police have started hunting for the attackers.
This attack is just one of the numerous unresolved killings that have rocked the region for several months now.
Last year, at least 30 people were killed in similar circumstances and up to 50 others were hospitalized in Lwengo, Rakai, Kalungu and Masaka districts. Police arrested over 100 suspects in connection with these murders although no one has been prosecuted.
Mr Lameck Kigozi, the greater Masaka regional police spokesperson says police are still investigating the killings.
The attack happened just hours after President Museveni castigated police over the increasing criminality in the country and assured Ugandans of security.
Citing the resent example of women murders which claimed the lives of more than 20 women in Entebbe and Nasana Municipality, Wakiso District, Mr Museveni said the assailants were taking advantage of a gap in the security infrastructure.
"Even the old Police methods could have unearthed those criminals earlier. However, some laxity had crept in with some elements in the Police failing to do what they should have done. Vigorous corrective measures were taken and are being taken to ensure that the Police Force is totally free of infiltration by criminals or any other non-patriotic elements," Mr Museveni in a two hour New Year message broadcast live from his home in Rwakitura on Sunday.
He added: "On the side of security, I want to, again, assure Ugandans of their security. In order to send a message to the terrorists, the UPDF launched an air and Artillery attack on ADF who continue to freely use Eastern Congo to train, recruit and send assassins in Uganda like the ones who killed a number of Sheikhs last year."