Africa

Uganda army accused of Karamoja torture abuses

  • 17 August 2010
  • From the section Africa
A young Karamojong villager keeps a close eye on a herd of cattle in Uganda (Archive photo 2007)
Image caption Cattle raids are common in Karamoja and the use of guns makes the problem far worse

A Uganda MP has accused soldiers of carrying out torture and killings in a campaign to disarm the arid north-eastern Karamoja region, where cattle-rustling is common.

Francis Adamson Kiyonga told the BBC an elite unit of troops was targeting civilians and at least 15 people have been killed since April.

He said some victims had had their teeth pulled or been nearly castrated.

Army spokesman Felix Kulaigye told the BBC the allegations were absurd.

Mr Kiyonga said local leaders were aware of the alleged abuses there needed to be an independent inquiry.

"The tortures are in the form of removing people's teeth, attempted castrations of men using hot metal like pangas [broad-blade knives] and severe beatings to people," Mr Kiyonga told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

The MP said of the 15 people killed in his constituency, three had had their necks broken and the others had been shot.

But Lieutenant Colonel Kulaigye denied there was any systematic targeting of the local population as part of the disarmament programme.

He said that similar accusations have been investigated in the past and found to be untrue.

Volatile region

However, he confirmed that three army officers are facing charges of extorting money from civilians.

Correspondents say Karamoja is the most underdeveloped and volatile region in Uganda.

Successive governments have tried to pacify the Karamojong people, who are known to carry out violent cattle raids, made worse by the influx of guns into the region.

Over the last 10 years, President Yoweri Museveni has put considerable emphasis on bringing stability to the area through a combination of development projects and military operations.

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