Rwanda: Uganda Accuses Rwanda of Abducting Sfc Soldier

30 November 2021

Uganda has accused Rwandan Security forces of abducting a Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier attached to the Specials Forces Command (SFC) for unexplained reason.

Uganda's military and the country's top diplomat in Kigali separately confirmed the abduction, which officials said was being handled at the highest levels of government.

Rwanda's Foreign minister Vincent Biruta did not answer or return our telephone calls and we were unable to get Rwanda's government's response on the incident.

The reported abduction comes in the wake of continuing frosty relations, which deteriorated about two years ago with Kigali's unilateral closure of its main border with Uganda.

Talks mediated by Angola, which resulted in face-to-face meetings between President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, provided hope that the diplomatic standoff between the two brotherly nations was closer to a resolution.

However, the negotiations have since stalled.

It remained unclear whether the arrest by Rwanda security forces of Pte Ronald Arinda, 23, is related to the strained relation between the neighbouring countries or a unilateral action by individual Rwandan security operatives.

In Kampala, Defence and Military spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, yesterday confirmed that Rwanda had taken an SFC soldier into custody.

"It's true that the arrested UPDF soldier was attached to SFC and was on his pass leave... The higher offices in the country shall handle the matter," she said.

Ms Olivia Wonekha, Uganda's ambassador to Rwanda, last evening said Kampala had already sent a diplomatic note to Kigali protesting Pte Arinda's abduction and was awaiting official response.

"People of Ugandan border communities [with Rwanda] should always take extra care to avoid such incidents," she said.

The Kabale Resident District Commissioner, Mr Godfrey Nyakahuma, who chairs the district security committee, said: "It's true our UPDF soldier, Pte Arinda, was [abducted] by the Rwandan security operatives at Omukiyovu Border Trading Centre in Ryakarimira Town Council Kabale District."

The SFC soldier allegedly taken by Rwandans last Saturday afternoon lived in Muguli 'B' Cell of Kakyerere Ward in Ryakarimira Town Council, Kabale District.

The Ryakarimira chairperson, Mr Enock Kazooba, said the SFC soldier was tricked by Rwandan security informers that live at the border on Ugandan side ostensibly to go and buy cattle.

In the middle of a purported bargain, Rwandan security operatives reportedly emerged and took him away forcibly.

"We do not know the motive of this kidnap and we are worried about his life," the mayor said.

Mr Kazooba said at the time of the abduction, the SFC soldier had his identity card and a copy of his pass leave document.

Following the incident, Uganda officials took into custody for interrogation one of its citizens suspected to have betrayed the soldier.

A relative said the abducted soldier planned to buy the cows to pay bride price.

Incidences of Rwandan operatives abducting Ugandan soldiers is not new.

In June, this year, Rwandan security forces captured UPDF Pte Baruku Muhuba, attached to 35th Brigade in Kisoro District, as he patrolled the border area. He was released after a few days.

At the time, the captured soldier was in full UPDF uniform and carrying a PK machine gun with 100 bullets, Kisoro RDC Peter Mugisha said then.

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