Gulu Police Blames Arson Attacks on Land Conflicts

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In short
Police in Gulu has blamed the rampant fire outbreak cases in the district on vengeful acts inspired by conflicts over land, relationships, finance and negligence by the residents. Since the beginning of this year, at least 30 cases of fire outbreak have been reported in Gulu district alone; 9 in Kitgum, Pader and Agago.

Police in Gulu has blamed the rampant fire outbreak cases in the district on vengeful acts inspired by conflicts over land, relationships, finance and negligence by the residents.
 
Since the beginning of this year, at least 30 cases of fire outbreak have been reported in Gulu district alone;  9 in Kitgum, Pader and Agago.
 
The Aswa regional police spokesperson Patrick Jimmy Okema says many fires are started by arsonists seeking revenge. In many cases police has discovered that the arsonists and victims have links.
 
Cue in: “the revengeful activities…..”
Cue out: “…….children unattended to”//
 
Among the fire outbreak victims has been the Gulu Internal Security Officer of Patiko sub county in Gulu district Geoffrey Lukakabwuno. His house was burnt by arsonists still on the run in February.
 
The LC three chairman of Patiko sub county Alex Kilara believes Lukakabwuno might have been attacked because he had been mediating in land conflicts in Gulu. The DISO is said to have lost 5 million shillings cash in the blaze.
 
Retired Bishop McLeod Baker Ochola, an Acholi elder, says that the people are frustrated with the new justice system which they do not understand and seems to cheat them of justice.  He says many people especially in Acholi are used to the traditional justice mechanisms that have always yielded fruits directly. He says the high level of revenge arson attacks especially through burning of houses could be as a result of the high level of trauma that people underwent.
 
Only February 18, over 30 families where left homeless in Olailong village in Gulu Municipality after a fire gutted several homesteads in the night. Police is still investigating the matter.
 
As a result of the rampant fire outbreaks, police in Gulu has also banned carrying of fuel in jericans from petrol stations. Okema warned that people should also be vigilant to stop fire in case of outbreaks since it is the dry season.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.