Kampala. Unknown armed people have sunk a UPDF Marine Unit boat on Lake Edward on the western border with the DR Congo, killing two experienced “sharp shooters” and three civilians.
According to Lt Col James Nuwagaba, the commander of Fisheries Protection Unit (FPU), the surprise attack happened at about 10am on July 5 as the team responded to a security incident on the waters.
The blow was so brutal that only a skull, shirt, and a cellphone handset of one of the victims was recovered, the senior army officer said while addressing district fisheries officers on Tuesday at Aquaculture Research and Development Centre (ARDC) in Kajjansi, outside Kampala.
“We are not sure the skull is his (of one of the soldiers). Our doctor has taken it for DNA [test]. He was one of the best sharp shooters we had,” Lt Col Nuwagaba said in tribute to one of the fallen marksmen.
The marine unit falls under the Special Forces, although they have their own command and structure, and their principal role is safeguarding Uganda’s water bodies.
President Museveni ordered soldiers under the unit to crackdown on illegal fishing after rapid depletion of fish stock, resulting in, among others, closure of fish factories.
Mr Museveni early this year said he had heard public outcry of brutal army operations, but said the exercise had resulted in renewal of fish stock.
Fisheries officers questioned Lt Col Nuwagaba about the qualification of the soldiers and why they (fisheries staff) and local governments, which licenced some of the targeted fishermen, had been sidelined in the UPDF operations.
The senior officers dismissed the complainants and said the FPU soldiers have certificates from the Fisheries Training Institute.
The Tuesday training was to teach fisheries officers cage fish farming on Lake Albert and Lake Edward.
Clashes between Ugandan and Congolese security and fishermen happened regularly on both lakes, which straddle the international frontier.
Lt Col Nuwagaba blamed the July 5 attack on Congolese troops and promised revenge.
“Those soldiers who died must be paid for (sic). They were killed at 10am, can you imagine? You do not kill our soldiers and go free. We might lie low now, but we will get up,” he said, without providing evidence to back up the assertions.
Last month, six Ugandans were kidnapped on the lake. After diplomatic efforts, they were returned two days ago.