Fears Mount in Kasese Over ADF Attacks – The Ankole Times

Fears Mount in Kasese Over ADF Attacks

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Fear has gripped the residents of Kasese due to a growing number of attacks attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a suspected terror group. The rise in these attacks has prompted locals to call for a response from security agencies.

On the evening of Tuesday, October 17, 2023, a gruesome incident unfolded in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, sending shockwaves through the community. Two foreign tourists and their Ugandan guide fell victim to the suspected ADF attack. The victims were found in distressing circumstances, with one tourist and the guide lifeless on the road, while another was trapped inside a burning Toyota Landcruiser tour car that had been set ablaze.

Modesto Kasereka, who came across the burning vehicle, quickly alerted a park ranger and the police to report the horrifying scene. Kasereka is now focusing on the security situation, highlighting concerns about the condition of the Katwe-Katunguru road where the incident occurred. He suggests that improving the road’s infrastructure could deter potential attackers by increasing traffic and reducing vulnerability.

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Recent reports, supported by President Museveni and the army, suggest that ADF elements are infiltrating Uganda through Kasese after facing intense pressure from the UPDF’s joint counter-terror operations in eastern DR Congo (Operation Shujaa). The low level of security deployment in the vast Kasese district has raised alarms, especially as the region prepares to host the 57th coronation anniversary of Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere Iremangoma, the cultural leader of the Rwenzururu kingdom.

Omusinga Mumbere was recently allowed to return to Kasese after a seven-year absence following violent clashes between Rwenzururu militants, royal guards, and joint security forces that led to his arrest and banishment. The government dropped charges of terrorism, murder, and treason against him, allowing his celebrated homecoming on October 4.

Local residents, like Livan Thembo, have expressed concern about the considerable distance between the scene of the attack in Nyamunuka and the nearest army detachment in Nyamughasana. Thembo, who teaches at Ihandiro Vocational Secondary School, highlights the current security risks and questions why security agencies seem quick to deploy at local political events but struggle to prevent ADF attacks.

As Kasese grapples with a tense security situation, John Bosco Kananura, chairperson of Katwe K’abatooro Town Council, observes that an outward appearance of calm masks the underlying fear that could negatively impact the local economy, heavily reliant on tourism.

Deputy Resident District Commissioner Lt. Maate Magwara acknowledges the challenge posed by the porous 40km border between Uganda and the DR Congo, particularly in Isango Sub-county, where the presence of River Lhubiriha complicates monitoring efforts due to its path through Virunga National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The joint security forces have called on locals to contribute to security efforts by providing intelligence information. As the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu anniversary is celebrated in Kasese, the Rwenzori East Police spokesperson, SP Nelson Tumushiime, assures the public of their preparedness to ensure safety during the event, despite recent suspected ADF attacks.

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The incident on Tuesday follows an October 14 attack in which suspected ADF rebels torched a Mercedes Benz truck, resulting in two fatalities and one injury. The truck, carrying onions, was traveling from the neighboring Kisoro District to Bwera at the border with DR Congo.

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Paul K Mugabe is a news analyst and commentator who has been gracing the pages of The East African Central Press Syndicate with his thought-provoking, and often eyebrow-raising, insights. - mugabe [at] eastafrica.ankoletimes.co.ug
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