Two Ugandan fishermen abducted on Lake Albert


Hoima- An armed group suspected to be from DR Congo has abducted two Ugandan fishermen.
The incident reportedly occurred on Lake Albert near Kaiso Landing Site in Buseruka Sub-county, Hoima District on Sunday.

Mr Godfrey Komakech, the Buseruka councillor, identified the abductees as Patrick Okumu and Jackson Owonda, both residents of Kaiso.

Mr Komakech said the abductors were armed with AK-47 riffles and were dressed in uniform similar to that worn by Congolese police.

He claimed that witnesses have told local and security officials that the group accused the duo of illegally fishing in the DR Congo side.

The officer-in-charge of Kaiso Police post, Mr Stephen Mugambe, said the armed group also took the duo’s fishing gear.

“We also have five reports by fishermen claiming that Congolese attacked them and confiscated their batteries, nets, boats, engines and lights. Investigations are ongoing,” Mr Mugambe said.

Meanwhile, fishermen in Hoima have petitioned President Museveni to stop the attacks.
“We request President Museveni to intervene in this matter. We request him to treat it as a matter of national security,” Mr Komakech said.

He said almost every month, armed groups carry out piracy on Lake Albert.
“Our request has been submitted to higher authorities, including the Minister of Security. But we are also in touch with the DR Congo national coordinator of LEAF II project that oversees activities on Lake Edward and Albert,” Mr Komakech said.

Mr Vincent Opio, the Kabwooya Sub-county councillor, said it is common for suspected Congolese soldiers and militias to attack fishermen and rob them of their gear.

“If our fishermen continue losing their fishing gear worth millions of shillings, it will affect their livelihoods and household incomes,” he said.

The Hoima Resident District Commissioner, Mr John Stephen Ekoom, said government officials are engaging their Congolese counterparts to resolve the matter.

“We plan to have a cross-border security meeting soon. Our intention is to agree on how to manage our common border,” Mr Ekoom said.

Uganda shares a border with DRC. Lake Albert and Lake Edward straddle along the border of the two countries.

However, there is no marked distinct border in the Lakes. This causes fishermen from Uganda and DRC to accuse each other of fishing beyond the borders of their home countries.

According to Mr Robert Mujuni, a businessman at Kaiso landing site who lost two boats to the unidentified armed group, there is an organized group that has made it a habit to terrorize Ugandan fishermen.

“They have made it a business to confiscate our fishing gears and thereafter they demand a ransom from us before releasing our gears” Mujuni said.

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