Uganda: Four South Sudan Soldiers Killed in Crossfire With UPDF

Four South Sudan People's Defence Forces (SSPDF) soldiers were on Sunday shot dead by Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers following a clash at Maru village, Kochi Sub County in Yumbe District in northern Uganda.

The area LCI chairman, Mr Yusuf Taban, said the South Sudan soldiers started raiding the village on May 20 in an attempt to loot the residents' household property and animals.

He said the South Sudan soldiers raided his village and took a power saw and 10 litres of oil from one of the residents and returned the following day asking the residents to vacate the area saying it belongs to South Sudan.

"Following the public outcry, the UPDF soldiers at Goboro detach went for patrol at Fitinambaya trading centre in Maru village on May 30 and that resulted into the clash," Mr Taban said.

He said the South Sudan soldiers established a detach near Fitinambaya trading centre on South Sudan side posing a threat to the residents on Ugandan side.

Mr Richard Andama, the Yumbe Resident District Commissioner (RDC) said the armed SSPDF soldiers who were dressed in civilian clothes entered into Uganda with the aim of looting people's property.

"When UPDF heard of the incident, they intervened but unfortunately, the SSPDF soldiers started shooting at the UPDF soldiers as soon as they saw them. In a retaliation, the UPDF also fired back, killing four of them" he said.

The UPDF recovered five guns (one machine gun and four AK47 riffles), according to the RDC. He said the bodies were handed over to the authorities in South Sudan at Afoji border.

Lt Leuben Ndifula, the UPDF public relations officer for West Nile, said the residents had several raids and harassment from "some groups of armed people from South Sudan especially in the areas of Goboro (Fitinambaya)."

He said the suspected gangs sometimes order residents to give them money, steal their phones and go back to South Sudan.

"When we intervened, three were killed on spot but the fourth one later died on the side of South Sudan. After the incident, we tried to cross check with our counterparts in South Sudan, then, we came to realise that the group belonged to South Sudan Defense People Forces (government soldiers)," Lt Ndifula said.

On Monday morning, while leading a team to pick the bodies, the Sector Commander for Kajo-Keji, Col John Kamilo, said there was an explanation about the matter to government authorities in South Sudan.

"We admit that it was a mistake on our side and we assure the people that the situation at the border is normal," he said.

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