The UPDF has said none of the 15 guns that inmates grabbed from Moroto prison on Wednesday has been recovered.
At around 4:30pm on Wednesday afternoon, inmates overpowered prison warders at Singila prison in Moroto District and broke into the armoury and took off with 15 guns and ran towards Mt.Moroto.
According to the deputy army spokesperson, Lt.Col.Deo Akiiki, following the incident, the UPDF under the leadership of the 3rd division commander, Brig. Joseph Balikuddembe was called upon to support Police and Uganda Prisons Services and consequently, both infantry and air power were deployed to pursue the escapees.
“Employing both infantry and air power, the UPDF pursued the escapees who had climbed towards Mountain Moroto in areas of Tapach and seven of the escapees were captured,”Akiiki said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“Fifteen rifles were grabbed from the prison and are not yet recovered. The pursuit to re-arrest the escapees and recovering the guns is still ongoing.”
The deputy army spokesperson explained that during the hot pursuit and exchange of fire, one UPDF soldier and three escapees were killed.
“Our soldier’s struggle was not in vain as he died fighting to restore peace and justice in his motherland. We celebrate his life and heroism.”
He however urged for calmness in the areas of Morot, Napak, Matany and the neighbouring districts but urged locals to be vigilant and inform local leaders, the police and army of any suspicious individuals in the area.
“Some escapees are armed and have fused with the community abandoning the prison uniforms. Security calls upon collaboration with the public in this effort. UPDF and sister security agencies will continue the search to re-arrest the prisoners,” Lt.Col.Deo Akiiki said.
Most of the escapees are Karamajong warriors arrested by the UPDF in several operations to rid the area of guns.
The development came only a day after the UPDF third Division Court Martial (DCM) in Moroto sentenced two Karamajong rustlers to nine years’ imprisonment each after being in illegal possession of two firearms.
The two were arrested during a UPDF sudden cordon and search operation and ambush carried out in Kotido district in July and August.
Since the start of the second phase of disarmament in November 2004, the UPDF third Division Court Martial has concluded over 500 cases of unlawful possession of firearms by civilians in Karamoja.
Most of the 219 escapees from Moroto prison are warriors arrested in recent UPDF operations against people with illegal guns in the Karamoja region.