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Napak, Katakwi Border ASTU Command Reshuffled

The Anti-Stock Theft Unit ASTU Commanding officer for Teso and Karamoja, Baker Mwanga told URN in a phone interview that the decision was taken following complaints from the Karamoja community of bias by the ASTU personnel towards the Iteso in Katakwi.
UPDF officers receiving catridges of live bullets fired by ASTU last week at Kaithelem.

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The leadership of the Anti-Stock Theft Unit-ASTU at the Napak- Katakwi border has been replaced following reports of mismanaging the conflict between the Teso and Bokora communities.

The communities have had a conflict for several decades over a boundary between Ongongoja and Poron sub counties of Katakwi and Napak district respectively. However, clashes erupted last week in Kaithelem Trading Centre, one of the first growing business areas in Poron, sending the area into a panic.

The latest round of tensions started when police from Katakwi arrested six residents from Napak and detained them on charges of malicious damage to property, assault and theft. More than 40 bullets were reportedly fired during the scuffle that ensued, as residents argued that the arrests targeted vocal residents in the matter of the administrative boundary.

Following the fight, the officer in charge of Osedem ASTU-detach Corporal Richard Ekeju has been demoted and replaced with Sargent Geoffrey Ocen. Ekeju will now be the deputy commander.

The Anti-Stock Theft Unit ASTU Commanding officer for Teso and Karamoja, Baker Mwanga told URN in a phone interview that the decision was taken following complaints from the Karamoja community of bias by the ASTU personnel towards the Iteso in Katakwi.

In one of the meetings with the Bokora community in Napak, they accused the ASTU of siding with Itesot. However, he hastens to add, that the conflict and animosity against ASTU personnel have been exacerbated by political interests.

"Politicking has really made our work very difficult. You find leaders inciting their people against us for being biased but our roles are clear and that's what we strive to achieve daily", he said.

Ongongoja Sub County chairperson, William Omeke equally acknowledges that the fight has taken a political twist.

"Some leaders have even reached to the extent of personalizing security agencies. Even where criminality is evident, politicians weigh in", he said.

But Napak District Chairperson Joseph Lomonyang faults the ASTU for causing panic among the community and notes that there was no need to fire live bullets to the community on grounds that they were rioting.

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Although no injuries or fatalities were recorded during the shooting, the army recovered 42 cartridges of PK and SMG guns. ASTU commander also recovered one bow and five arrows from the residents of Bokora that were reportedly used during the riots on Wednesday night.