Kabale — Uganda's security operatives have arrested two Rwandan nationals alleged to have entered the country illegally to gather intelligence.
Security sources identified them as Ishimwe Bosose and Peter Sanvura. They said the Rwandan soldiers were arrested in a church in Kamwezi in Rukiga District at the weekend.
Speaking during the handover of the body of a Rwandan national who was shot dead in Uganda at the weekend, the mayor of Nyagatare District in Rwanda, Mr Claudian Mushabe, yesterday called on Uganda to release the duo.
"We are grateful to the Ugandan government for having bothered to bring the body of our Rwandan national that died that side. I appeal to the Ugandan government in the same spirit to bring to us all the Rwandan nationals that are currently detained in your security cells," Mr Mushabe said.
"Even yesterday you arrested other two Rwandans from Kamwezi in Rukiga District," he added as he received the body of his countryman.
When Daily Monitor asked Mr Mushabe what Rwandan soldiers were doing in Uganda, he denied they were security operatives. He challenged the Ugandan authorities to prove that the detained Rwandans are soldiers and name the barracks where they are attached.
However, Ugandan security sources insisted the arrested Rwandans were on espionage and had been transferred to Kampala for "further management."
The diplomatic tiff between the two countries came to the fore in February after Rwanda closed its Katuna border and issued a travel advisory to its citizens not to travel to Uganda, claiming they faced arrest. Uganda denied the accusation and accused Kigali of infiltration and espionage.
Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa on May 17 told heads of missions accredited to Uganda that Rwandan security operatives had been entering the country without permission.
"A number of Rwandan security operatives have been entering Uganda without following laid down procedures governing the entry of security personnel into the country," Mr Kutesa said.
Earlier, Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister Richard Sezibera had at the end of April told diplomats accredited to his country that Uganda was harassing its citizens and hosting elements hostile to the Kigali regime.
Kampala maintains that it has no problem with any foreign national who abides by the law.
At about 3pm yesterday, hundreds of local residents and foreign diplomats congregated at Katuna Border Town to witness the handover of a body of a Rwandan trader John Batista Kyerengye, who was shot dead by his own country's security forces last Friday.
The handover of Kyerengye's body was witnessed by regional and foreign diplomats who included Michael Cygry from the US embassy, First Secretary Simon Tucher from the British High Commission; First Chancellor Clement Noutel from French embassy; Edward Talyzin from Russian embassy; Jean Bosco Barege of Burundi; and Dr Aziz Mlima from Tanzania.
Others include: Ambassador Paul Mukombya (the head of regional peace and security department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Rukiga District Woman MP Kamusime Muhwezi led a delegation to the handover, which was done under tight security by Uganda police and other security agencies.
"We condemn this act and we expect Rwanda to do the same," she said.
She was accompanied by Kabale District chairperson Patrick Besigye Keihwa and the deputy resident district commissioner, Mr Gad Rugaju.
The Rwandan delegation was led by Mr Claudian and Rwanda's Eastern regional police commander Emmanuel Hatari.
They were accompanied by two brothers of the deceased.
After the handover of Kyerengye's body to the Rwandan delegation, the delegation went to Kamwezi to visit the scene of the shooting and to hand over the body of the Ugandan citizen Alex Nyesiga to the relatives for burial.
Kabale Deputy Resident District Commissioner Gad Rugaju appealed to Rwandan authorities to restrain their soldiers from entering Ugandan territory while armed because it violates international immigration laws.
"Uganda and Rwanda require harmony. The Rwandan government must restrict and restrain its soldiers from crossing into Uganda while armed. It's paining that Rwandan armed security personnel crossed into Uganda on Friday evening and shot and killed one Ugandan and a Rwandan national without respecting the immigration laws," Mr Rugaju said.
In response, Mr Mushabe said his government would not tolerate smuggling of goods from Uganda into Rwanda.
Mr Augustine Habakize, the brother to Kyerengye, said they were told their relative was armed with a machete which he allegedly wanted to use to hack Rwandan soldiers who had stopped him.
The interview was cut short by Rwandan security officials who took him away to the Rwandan border side.
Kyerengye and a Ugandan Alex Nyesiga were shot at about 8pm at Habusavu Trading Centre, about 50 metres inside the Ugandan territory in Kamwezi Sub-county in Rukiga District.
Eyewitnesses said Rwandan security forces tried to impound a motorcycle they said Kyerengye had used to smuggle second-hand clothes from Uganda to Rwanda. He had abandoned the motorcycle as he fled the advancing Rwandan soldiers.
The local people stopped the Rwandan operatives from impounding the motorcycle which was already parked on the Ugandan side. The Rwandan soldiers retaliated by shooting Kyerengye and a resident Nyesiga.
The two bodies were taken to Kabale Regional Hospital, where they were kept until yesterday.