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By Julius Ocungi

Amuru: Four people have been confirmed dead while four others are nursing critical injuries following an attack by unknown assailants in the disputed Apaa Township, an area claimed by both Amuru and Adjumani districts.

The deceased were reportedly attacked on Wednesday afternoon by assailants wielding bows, arrows, and clubs in Te-Okono village during clashes between Acholi ber and Punu dyang. At least 35 grass-thatched huts have were razed down, while food crops and livestock were looted by the attackers.

Local leaders have identified the dead as Walter Ocan 28, Justine Odong 53, Daniel Oloya 31, and Maurensio Obwona 50. Their bodies were recovered on Thursday afternoon with piles of clubs abandoned near them.

Some of the people killed in an attack by unknown assailants on Wednesday in the disputed Apaa land.

Two of the jinured whose identities haven’t yet been established are receiving treatment from Mungula Health Center IV while two others are at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor.

The Fourth Infantry Division Spokesperson Maj. Telesphor Turyamumanya confirmed the attack to Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Friday adding that a combined security force comprising police, Army and UWA rangers are already hunting the assailants.

According to Charles Okoya, the Vice Chairperson of Apaa Sub-Parish in Apaa Township, the assailants numbering about 100 men had illegally camped in the area for one week.

Okoya says the attackers suspected to be Madi tribesmen launched their attack on Wednesday despite local residents alerting security personnel about the intrusion.

He notes that four people whose identities he didn’t reveal are missing and suspects they could have been abducted by the assailants who are on the run.

According to Okoya, the deceased bodies were on Thursday transported to Mungula Health Center IV morgue for postmortem to ascertain the exact cause of their death.

Okoya however criticized security personnel in Apaa township for their reluctance to respond to their calls when the assailants illegally intruded in their area.

Abraham Opiro, a resident of Apaa village also faulted the police for ignoring their messages over unknown people who had camped illegally on their land arguing that had they responded, no life would have been lost.

Kilak North legislator who doubles as the Acholi Parliamentary Group (APG) Chairperson condemned the attack and called for speedy investigation by security so that the culprits are apprehended.

He says the attack undermines concerted efforts initiated by several stakeholders in the region and central government to ensure peace prevails over the disputed territory.

Akol however raised frustration with the newly appointed Judicial Commission of Inquiry for not kicking off their work and noted that the central government should take over management of Apaa in the meantime.

The latest attack comes less than a month after the President swore in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry members headed by retired Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe to kick off the investigation into the decade-long Apaa land dispute.

Other members of the commission are Justice Alice Mpagi Bahigaine, Justice Steven George Engwau, Joyce Gunze Habaasa, Dr. Fred Henry Bateganya, George Omunyokol, and Imelda Adongo.

Contention over Apaa started in 2012 when Adjumani District Council gazetted the area as East Madi Game Reserve, sparking off disagreement with Amuru district which claimed ownership of the same land.

The conflict was further fueled when the Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers moved in and started the forceful eviction of residents claiming they were illegally occupying a game reserve. In 2017, the dispute turned bloody after the then-local Government Minister Tom Butime annexed the area formerly under Pabbo Sub-county in Amuru District and handed it to Adjumani District.

Several concerted efforts to find lasting peace over the land conflict including the appointment of committees headed by former Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, former Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah, the Equal Opportunities Commission, and cultural leaders over the years have yielded no fruits.

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