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Ugandan Fishermen Pay Ransom to Congo Militiamen for Release of 6 Boat Engines

Fred Mujuni, the Chairman of Kaiso landing site fishing community told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday that the Congolese criminals released six of the nineteen boat engines after their owners each paid USD 500 to have their boat engine released.
Boat Engines recovered from DRC Militiamen in 2019. Photo by Emmanuel Okello.

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Some fishermen who lost their boat Engines to suspected Congolese militiamen on the Lake Albert waters in Hoima district last week have succumbed to ransom demands and recovered their engines after paying ransom. 

The Congolese militiamen raided Lake Albert waters near the Kaiso landing site in Hoima district on March 21,2021 robbing 19 boat Engines. 

The armed militiamen dressed in DRC Military Uniform raided the lake, put several fishermen on gunpoint, and ordered them to surrender the boat engines to them.

They later crossed to DR Congo with the robbed boat engines and started asking for ransom to have the engines returned to the owners.

Fred Mujuni, the Chairman of Kaiso landing site fishing community told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday that the Congolese criminals released six of the nineteen boat engines after their owners each paid USD 500 to have their boat engine released.

He says the other boat engines are still being held by the suspected militiamen after their owners have failed to raise the ransom.

According to Mujuni, the six boat engines were released to the owners on Sunday evening.

//cue in;”Those engines which… 

Cue out:…Paying 500 USD.”//

Mujuni has appealed to the government to intervene and compel the Congolese government authorities to ensure that the remaining robbed engines are returned at no cost. 

//cue in;”Government officials should…

Cue out:…has ever happened.”//

 

Vincent Aliganyira, also a fisherman at Kaiso landing site wonders why government has up to now failed to intervene yet the fishermen are undergoing untold suffering.   

Julius Hakiza, the Albertine region police spokesperson says that security teams are already in talks with their DRC counterparts to have the confiscated engines returned to the affected fishermen at no cost. 

 

Attacks by suspected Congolese Militia on Ugandan fishermen have been rampant since 2018.  

On March 14, 2021, four-armed Congolese militiamen raided the lake abducting 16 Ugandan fishermen.

They also robbed four fishing boats and four engines. The abducted fishermen were detained for a week at the Tchomia Landing Site in Bunia district and released after each paid USD 50. 

 

Similar events unfolded in October 2020 when armed militiamen raided Lake Albert, abducted 16 fishermen, robbed 20 boat engines and 20 fishing boats.

 

In April 2020, two suspected Congolese militiamen were gunned down on Lake Albert in Hoima district in a fire exchange between the militia and the UPDF soldiers. 

The two, later identified as Ozelle Opio, 25, and another, only identified as Singa were part of the group that invaded the landing site near Kaiso in Buseruka sub-county where they put several Ugandan fishermen at gunpoint, ordering them to surrender their fishing gear including boats, fishing nets, engines and hooks. 

    

But in the process, some Ugandan fishermen sneaked off and alerted the UPDF who rushed to their rescue. Before the UPDF soldiers could reach them, the suspected militiamen opened fire leading to a fire exchange between them and the UPDF.

The UPDF also recovered three AK-47 guns with 47 rounds of ammunition that the militiamen were using at the time they were rounded up.

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