Statement to Parliament on the recent attacks in the districts Of Bundibugyo, Kasese and Ntokoro. (Thursday 10.07.2014)
Here is parts a statement with new information dropped to the Parliament and it should be interesting too thoose who has followed the skirmishes in Kasese and Bundibugyo.
1.1 The right Honourable Speaker of Parliament and Hon Members of Parliament, our country on Saturday the 5th July witnessed a very tragic and sad event that led to the death of at least 90 Ugandans in the districts of Bundibugyo, Kasese and Ntoroko.
1.2 I beg to move Madam Speaker that Parliament rises to observe a minute of silence in respect of these deceased Ugandans, I beg to move.
1.3 The characteristic of the events that unfolded show that some people in our society still hold firm beliefs in witchcraft, can easily be duped into criminality and can be very callous in causing death to their brothers and sisters.
(2) The main characteristics and details of the attacks
2.1 The attacks took place on Saturday 5th July between 2 PM and 4 pm in the districts of Bundibugyo, Kasese and Ntoroko
2.2 The main targets were police and army positions, wananchi in the case of Kasese, the palace of the ObundingyawaBwamba and stanbic bank in Bundibugyo
2.3 The attackers were mainly armed with spears,pangas sticks and some guns
2.4 The objectives were mainly to ,get guns and money.
(3) The places attacked in each of the affected districts are;
3.1 In Bundibugyo the places attacked included
(i) Kanyamirima barracks – 5 kilometers from the town of Bundibugyo,
(ii) Bundibugyo town where the stanbic bank and the palace of the OmundigyawaBwamba were key targets.
(iii) Kirindi shrine
3.2 In the district of Ntoroko the attacks were at the trading centre of Kibuuku and the police station in Karugutu town council.
3.3 While in Kasese, the places affected are:
(i) a weighbridge opposite KCCL factory on the highway from Kasese to Bushenyi and
(ii) The villages of Bigando and Ibuga.
(4) The Table below summarises the estimates of the people killed as of Tuesday 8/7/2014.
(1) Response to the crisis by Government
(a) Early on Sunday 6th the Inspector General of police and the Commander Land Forces UPDF moved into the area
(b) The battalion commanding offices in Bundibugyo were already joined by the 305 brigade based in Hima, Kasese
(c) I left Kampala on Sunday evening heading for Bundibugyo. My colleague the Hon Minister of Internal Affairs at the time we received the news of the attacks was in the Acholi sub region following the National ID registration but we kept in close touch over the issue.
(d) The President and Commander in Chief has been kept briefed about the events and as Hon Members are aware, he has issued a preliminary statement on the tragic situation
(e) I returned to Kampala on Tuesday night and yesterday morning I briefed the Cabinet and a good proportion of the time of Cabinet was spent discussing this tragedy and laying out strategies on how to prevent such tragedies in the future.
(f) The deployments in the affected districts have been stepped up both by police and the army
(g) The Inspector General’s attention is now fully focused on the region and up to yesterday he was still in the region.
(h) Intensive investigations are going on to find the basis of the attack and the leaders of this plan.
(2) While in Bundibugyo, I held a number of meetings and interviews
7.1 I met the senior leadership of the army and police, made a courtesy call on the OmundingyaWaBwamba and interviewed the Deputy Prime Minister of the ObusingaBwaRwenzururu who had been taken in by the police and also with one of the women that was among those captured from the attackers.
7.2 I had a discussion with political leaders of the district of Bundibugyo led by the district chairperson and also met 10 elders of the Bakonzo people in Bundibugyo
7.3 The woman I met was about 35 years old. Her story was that she had been captured by the attackers on her way from her garden on Friday 4th July i.e the day before the attacks of Saturday. Her brief history was that in 1997 when ADF attacked Bundibugyo she responded to the call by UPDF to join military training and she worked with the army for one year. However while working as LDU, she fell in love with a UPDF soldier and had a child with her in 2000. Thereafter the husband now was transferred to Gulu. In 2003 the husband defected from the army and returned with his wife and baby to Mbale where he hails from. She did not find life easy so she returned to her father’s home in Bundibugyo in 2006 and has since lived with the parents until she got involved in this attack.
7.4 When I asked her if she had seen a witch doctor before coming for the attack, she told me she refused to do so because this was satanic and her experience in Gulu had taught her that witchcraft does not protect one against bullets. She however indicated that inorder not to provoke her superiors she accepted to carry some stuff in her pocket which was meant to be protection against bullets. She revealed that while in the camp where she was taken on the Friday night she found about 150 other people.
7.5 The brief by the leaders in the camp was that the struggle was for liberation of the Bakonzo people from the Bamba oppression which was supported by the Central Government. They were told that the mission on Saturday was to get 2 things.
- guns from Kanyamirima barracks and the police
- money from stanbic bank
7.6 She further informed me that some of the people killed in the attack were from her village and she believed that these had been undergoing training during the day for at least a week in a place she did not know until that Friday night. On my asking, she told me the father’s name and that the father and sisters had mobile phones. And so I told her I wanted to ring the father. When the police brought me the phone the cell had died and so advised that it be charged. Subsequently I rang the father who collaborated her story in so far as the disappearance on Friday was concerned and her marriage to the UPDF soldier. He also revealed he had lost a son in the attack and until I rang him and informed him about the daughter he thought that she too had died.
7.7 This lady’s story collaborated what the soldiers had told me about the attackers having used witchcraft to protect themselves against bullets.
(3) Let me now give some characteristics of the attacks in Kasese. What happened at Bigando was callous horrible and despicable to say the least.
- Bigando and Ibuga are two villages in Busongora North the constituency represented in this House by Hon William Nzoghu.
- on the fateful afternoon 11 civilians, including children were killed in cold blood.
- A soldier on leave was forced into his house,the house locked from outside and set on fire! and other people hacked to death by the attackers.
- As I have said this was callous, atrocious and heartless on the part of the attackers.
- We strongly condemn this and the Government is doing everything possible to find the culprits and bring them to book
(4) Underlying factors
9.1 As I have clearly stated investigations are on and many people including the attackers who were captured alive are being interrogated.
9.2 I will therefore at this stage give the underlying factors operative in the Rwenzori region that will throw light on the causation of this tragedy.
9.3 First there is the matter of cultural institutions in the area. After the ObusingaBwaRwenzururu was recognized by the Government, the other ethnic groups in the place also called for recognition. Accordingly the Government recognized the cultural institution of the Bamba, the ObundingiyaBwaBamba.
9.4 In the meantime the Basongora and the Banyabindi in Kasese have also been calling for similar treatment. This has however not gone well with the ObusingaBwaRwenzururu. As the article in the news papers has shown, the President has asked the OmusingawaRwenzururu to have a dialogue with the other ethnic groups in the Rwenzururu kingdom.
9.5 There is also the issue of the economy and land mainly in Kasese district. This has been longstanding matter which Government has been grappling with and of recent. Parliament appointed a select committee to follow up the issue. I am made to understand a report will soon be presented to the House.
9.6 The Basongora and Banyabindi in Kasese district have persistently talked about being marginalized in the district while the Bakonzo in Bundibugyo have also claimed marginalization by the leadership in Bundibugyo.
9.7 The Government is aware of these grievances and is studying the matter carefully.
(i) The tragic events of last weekend deserve the condemnation of right thinking people.
(ii) In handling this tragedy, it is important that we separate issues. In particular I have in mind the criminally minded people who hatched this plan and therefore take responsibility for the deaths that occurred. Then there is the persisting belief in witchcraft on the part of some of our people in the country. To have a situation in the country where people still think that witchcraft can protect them from bullets and therefore daringly attack an army barracks,is a clear indication of the long road we still have to travel to achieve socio-economic transformation.
(iii) As I have said Government strongly condemns the attacks that took place in the Rwenzori region and is taking every step possible to calm the situation, thoroughly have the matter investigated with the view to bringing culprits to book in accordance with the law of the land.
(iv) The intelligence failure that occurred in this particular situation is being rectified.
(v) In the meantime Government is carefully studying the grievances as outlined in this statement.
(vi) I thank you Madam Speaker and Hon members of Parliament for the attention you have given to this statement.