By Steven Ariong
Fear, insecurity has gripped residents of Singila ward, Moroto Municipality in Moroto District after prisoners broke out of Singila prison and took off with the guns.
On Wednesday at around 4.30pm, more than 50 prisoners both women and men who were serving various sentences escaped from the prison premises with more than 15 guns towards Mt Moroto.
Mr Johnson Byabashaija, the commissioner general Uganda Prisons, said that inmates overpowered prison staff before accessing the armory and took the guns.
However, last evening authorities at the prison said one inmate had been put out of action while three others had been re-captured.
In the fire exchange lasted close to an hour, one Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier was reportedly shot dead.
The UPDF tried to use the army helicopter gunship to stop the prisoners but it was too late as they had already disappeared into the bushes. Advertisement
Mr Peter Lokol, a resident of Singila ward told Daily Monitor that they are not safe anymore given the fact that no gun has been recovered yet from the prisoners.
“This is the beginning of insecurity again in Karamoja sub-region should these guns remain in the hands of these escapees who are high-profile criminals,” he said.
Ms Grace Nakong, another resident, blamed the escape of the prisoners on lack of manpower from the prison administration.
“How did all that number of prisoners manage to escape and reached the extent of picking guns from the armory without the prison warders doing anything. There might have been a conspiracy,” she said.
Mr Simon Moding, one of the eyewitnesses, told Daily Monitor that he saw the prisoners carrying guns walking gently, he thought they were helping the prison warders carry their guns.
“They were not even in a hurry while they walked. I even asked one of them why they were carrying guns and he told me they were helping the prison warders, but after a few minutes I heard gunshots and that’s when I realized that they had escaped,” he narrated.
The residents are now demanding the immediate arrest of the personnel who were manning security at the prisons for neglecting their duties.
Maj Peter Mugisha, the UPDF 3rd Division Spokesperson said the army was still on the hunt for the escapees.
“Some of the escapees are hardcore criminals who appeared and were remanded by army general court-martial on charges of possession of illegal arms and cattle rustling. We are calling upon the general public to work hand in hand with the security personnel to get these criminals,” he said.
Moroto Prison was recently uplifted to be the Upper Prisons and has the capacity to keep over 3,000 prisoners.