Police Official Denies Scores Of People Killed In Uganda Alleged "Land Grab" Clash

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Daudi Migereko the Uganda minister of lands

A Police official has denied that scores of people were shot and killed during clashes in Uganda's Acholi region between government security forces and civilians who are resisting what they fear is a "land-grab" by the government of Yoweri Museveni.

The clashes occurred in Apaa, in the northern part of Uganda where several youth were reported resisting soldiers of the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF), according to people from the area and sources in the police and army.

A police spokesperson denied that as many as dozens of people may have been killed by live gun fire from security forces as one witness claimed. The area is cordoned off by the military and police. The police spokesperson said 17 people were seriously injured. Some of the wounded were brought to Lacor Hospital near Gulu city.

The military and police have prevented reporters from reaching Apaa region and Gilbert Olanya a member of Parliament who tried to travel there was blocked and arrested. The clashes between the civilians and the military began on September 4.

The 13,000 strong community of Apaa fear the government wants to wrest control of their land for investors, including the Madhvani Group of Companies which wants to create a sugar plantation.

On Monday, the witness who claimed he had seen several bodies reported that people protesting the feared land-grab had destroyed the Juka bridge connecting Amuru and Adjumani districts and dug up trenches along Amuru road leading to Apaa center to slow down military convoys.

Without the bridge UPDF soldiers entered Amuru through Kilak hills from the East of Apaa while other soldiers came from West Nile along river Nile, the witness said.

“The UPDF and Uganda Police are now forcing Apaa community to walk on their foot to Pabbo even the elderly people. Both old women and men are being forced to march on foot to Pabbo,” the witness said.

The government deployed UPDF soldiers two months ago in Apaa during the Acholi-Madi border conflict. Daudi Migereko the Uganda minister of lands, housing and urban development was overseeing what the government says is a land survey to demarcate the district  boundary. Migereko says, the UPDF and Uganda Police are being deployed to protect the population of Apaa and the land Surveyors. During protests at that time elderly women disrobed and demonstrated naked before government officials and military personnel who backed off.

Apaa residents believe the government's announcement that it wanted to demarcate the borders between the districts is a ruse to remove land from their ownership which would then be given to the investors.

Otinga Otto Yali, the Lamogi chief, had accused Gilbert Olanya the Member of Parliament for Kilak County of mobilizing the allegedly armed-with-arrows youth group called Dwon Lwak, or "the peoples voice."

Gilbert Olanya refuted the allegations during a media press briefing at Northern Uganda Media Club earlier before he was arrested while on his way to Pabbo at Parabongo along Gulu-South Sudan high way.

Olanya, who was traveling with Journalists, was stopped and later on forced into a police vehicle and driven towards Kampala with journalists in pursuit.

He was later taken to Masindi police station.

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