Five South Sudanese nationals have reportedly been arrested by the Ugandan police in Amuru District for crossing into the border with firearms.
According to the Ugandan New Vision website, the police said the five suspects were found with a gun and 29 rounds of ammunition—deep in the sugar plantation in an area called Horail sugar factory.
It said a joint operation conducted by Police and the Ugandan army, UPDF, led to their arrest.
The five are accused of threatening workers at the sugar factory, saying that that part of the factory belongs to South Sudan.
The arrested suspects include Joseph Lagu, Peter Wanek, Briton Ambuya, James Azo and a yet to be identified person.
The Ugandan police spokesperson said the suspects are currently being held at the UPDF fourth Division in Gulu district.
Fred Enanga said they would like to know what unit of the armed forces in South Sudan the suspects represent.
“We are trying to establish if they have an attachment to the security agencies in South Sudan,” he said.
Enanga said they will be arraigned in court to face charges of being illegal Uganda while in possession of arms.
In Uganda, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison.
South Sudanese in Amuru District
Amuru district is estimated to host a total of 2,000 South Sudan refugees.
In 2016, residents in the area offered 12 square kilometres for the establishment of refugee settlement centres specifically to accommodate South Sudanese escaping war.
But over the years the locals say South Sudanese have secretly bought big chunks of land without the involvement of the district and local government authorities and are transacting directly with the land owners.
They also accuse some refugees of sneaking into Uganda with illegal firearms.
The residents of the district which starts from Elegu border entry point with Nimule have implicated Ugandan government officials for transacting land deals between locals and refugees.
South Sudanese refugees have reportedly bought land in the sub-counties of Pabbo and Atiak, all in Amuru District, part of which has been turned into grazing zones for their animals.
Illegal firearms leaving South Sudan
Last year, the Ugandan police officers at Elegu border point intercepted a 42 year old woman leaving Nimule with an assortment of explosives including 17 hand grenades, 13 magazines of semi-automatic guns, 16 grenade fuses, 569 loose ammunition, 145 PK ammunition in the chain and 348 PK loose ammunition.
The Ugandan security forces in Kitgum and Amuru districts said that the conflict in South Sudan is helping to arm criminal groups who smuggle illegal weapons into Uganda through the porous border points of Elegu and Ngomoromo, Aweno-Olwiyo and Waligo in Lamwo District.
Regional strategic intelligence experts say the smuggled weapons are later used by local gangs to rob and kill, and most of the guns recovered used in a variety of crimes have been traced back to South Sudan.
It said a network of the black market sale of weapons has been uncovered where the guns are bought in South Sudan at $500 before being sold to members of the criminal gangs in Uganda at $1,500.
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