In a troubling turn of events, soldiers from the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), specifically the 51 Infantry Battalion 407, stand accused of a severe livestock incident in Amudat district. Reports suggest that 40 cows were killed, and 50 others injured in an encounter with herdsmen at the border area of Naporokoch parish in Amudat district and Korite in Kween district.
Amudat district chairman, Joseph Lobot, sheds light on the incident, explaining that the herdsmen were grazing the cows near the border when they encountered UPDF soldiers on patrol. Allegedly driven to drink water from the Kween side, where Pokot pastoralists face grazing restrictions, the herd comprised mainly of minors.
The UPDF acknowledges the incident but offers a different perspective, asserting that the cows were casualties in an exchange of fire between Pokot armed warriors and the soldiers. Maj Moses Amuya, the acting UPDF 3rd division spokesperson, details that a clash ensued between the warriors and the soldiers from the 51 Infantry Battalion 407. During the confrontation, the warriors reportedly withdrew toward the herd, utilizing the animals as shields in the crossfire, resulting in one injured UPDF soldier.
Contradicting the UPDF’s account, Lobot disputes the notion of a firefight between security forces and Pokot warriors, highlighting that if true, casualties would have been incurred on both sides. He urges security forces to foster unity among conflicted communities, emphasizing the importance of impartiality to prevent an escalation of insecurity.
This incident echoes a concerning pattern, as in September 2023, the UPDF arrested one of its officers involved in a shooting spree that left 40 cows dead in Moruita Sub county, Nakapiripirit district. The cows were part of the 291 cattle recovered from the Pokot community following a raid in the areas of Naborokocha. The recurring incidents raise questions about the broader implications of military engagements in civilian and pastoralist communities.