Breaking

Gulu Residents Brutalized by Gangs Under Cover of COVID-19 Curfew

Residents of Gulu say that a number of them have fallen victim to antics of gangs that waylay them around Cemetery Road, Tank Road, School Road and Commercial Road in Pece Division as well as Alolokolum Road around the industrial area in Layibi Division. They are mainly looking out for people who are caught outside their homes at the time of the curfew.
Residents in Gulu in panic buying at the Marin Market ahead of curfew in town - Photo by Dominic Ochola

Audio 3

A group of armed youths masquerading as Local Defence Unit personnel are taking advantage of curfew to brutalize residents of Gulu Municipality in Northern Uganda.   

The curfew was declared by President Yoweri Museveni almost a week ago, as a measure to control the movement of people, at a time the country is battling to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease-COVID-19.  It runs from 7 p.m. to 6; 30 a.m. 

But residents of Gulu say that a number of them have fallen victim to antics of gangs that waylay them around Cemetery Road, Tank Road, School Road and Commercial Road in Pece Division as well as Alolokolum Road around the industrial area in Layibi Division. They are mainly looking out for people who are caught outside their homes at the time of the curfew. 

Charles Okumu, a resident of Pece Division who was brutalized by the impostors along Cemetery Road says that the group masquerades in plain cloth and takes advantage of the rush-hour to loot valuables from unsuspecting targets.  

//Cue in; “For us we… 

Cue out…to one another.’’//  

Eric Odong, a resident of Layibi Division who escaped such an attack said he witnessed acts being perpetrated by disgruntled youths, whose source of livelihood was disrupted by government measures to control COVID-19.

//Cue in; “From yesterday… 

Cue out…far reaching impact.’’//

Thomas Okot, a concerned resident and Chairperson of Northern Uganda Bodaboda Association blames the confusion on security forces that have been infiltrated by crooks and implement directives contrary to the directives of the President.  

//Cue in; “Our President is… 

Cue out…and beaten seriously.’’//  

Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson Patrick Jimmy Okema contested enlisting the services of plain-clothed security personnel apart from Police, LDUs and Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF soldiers urging the public to make formal complaints when such incidents occur.

The UPDF Spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire on Friday issued a statement rallying the public to be alert and report cases of security personnel breaking into people’s homes to loot valuables under the guise of enforcing the curfew. 

The 14-day lockdown and curfew was declared from April 1 by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to curtail the rapid spread of the deadly pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. However, several criminals have taken advantage of the shutdown to commit crimes such as house break-in; theft and burglary among others.