Armed gunmen suspected to be from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have invaded fishing communities on Lake Albert in Western Uganda district of Hoima, abducting at least 16 fishermen.

The invasion took place on Sunday at Kaiso landing site of Mbegu parish, Kabaale Sub County, Hoima district.

The militia-men also allegedly robbed four fishing boats, four boat engines and several sets of fishing nets from the fishermen.

Kaiso landing site Chairperson, Mr Fred Mujuni said that about four armed men put the fishermen at gunpoint and ordered them to surrender their fishing gear and other material possessions. They would later cross with their prey to DRC.

The Albertine Regional Police spokesperson, Mr Julius Hakiza said security forces are on ground to rescue the Ugandan citizens.

‘‘It was too late for the police to pursue the suspected militiamen at the time security teams were alerted. Efforts are ongoing to engage the Congolese authorities to have the abducted Ugandans freed,’’ Hakiiza said.

Hakiza identified some of the Ugandan fishermen whose boats have been robbed by the militiamen as Mr Richard Okethwengu, Mr Philemon Kazingufu and Mr Asaba Sirius, all residents of Kaiso landing site.  He said it is not yet clear in which parts of DR Congo, the abducted fishermen are being held.

There have been rampant attacks against Ugandan fishing communities on Lake Albert since 2018.

In October 2020, suspected armed Congolese militiamen raided Lake Albert where they abducted 16 fishermen, robbed 20 boat engines and 20 fishing boats. The incident happened near Kaiso and Kijangi landing sites in Buseruka sub-county in Hoima district and Sebigoro landing site in Kabwoya sub-county, Kikuube district.

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.

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