By Spy Uganda
Hoima: There was tension on Lake Albert over the weekend as suspected armed Congolese militia raided the lake and abducted 16 fishermen, robbed 20 boat engines plus 20 fishing boats from Ugandans fishing on Kaiso landing site.
According to Fred Mujuni, the chairperson of Kaiso fishing community, all the seven-armed Congolese militiamen put several Ugandan fishermen at gun-point while on the lake before ordering them to surrender to them all the fishing gear they had in their possession before crossing with them to DRC.
He adds that the Congolese militiamen are currently demanding for ransom to have the Ugandans freed together with their fishing gear, noting that this is not the first time such acts have happened despite several citizens’ outcries to Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) marine unit which is supposed to provide security to Ugandans on this lake.
In the year of 2019, four Ugandan fishermen were abducted on Lake Albert still by militiamen reportedly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The abducted fishermen were identified as Okello, Jawia, Onen and Osaga all attached to Kijangi landing site in Buseruka sub-county Hoima district.
The fishermen to be abducted, they had gone fishing when they were attacked by the suspected militiamen who allegedly put them at gun-point before crossing with them to DR Congo together with their fishing gear including a boat, engine and 16 sets of fishing nets.
Samuel Kisembo, the Hoima Resident District Commissioner by then said they were working on modalities of handling the issue and also restoring peace between the two countries with an aim of ensuring that fishermen from both sides respect the boundaries.
Authorities in Kampala and their Kinshasa counterparts have in the past agreed to conduct joint operations by fisheries and security officials to prevent clashes and disagreements over-fishing in the disputed area, which both countries claim ownership but the Congolese continued to terrorize Ugandans on the lake.
It should be remembered that DRC and Uganda were involved in a bitter conflict from 1998 to 2003 that resulted in millions of deaths.
Since then, the two countries have had a tense relationship at certain points in time. The Congolese have accused Ugandan forces of encroaching on their territory, while Ugandan authorities have complained that the DRC does not do enough to fight militia activity near the border.