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18 killed in Uganda tribal clashes with police

KAMPALA, Uganda – Armed members of a tribal group near Uganda’s border with Congo killed at least 12 people in multiple attacks against civilians and the security forces, Ugandan police said Sunday.

The attackers targeted government buildings in three western districts that have a history of anti-government insurgency and tensions among rival tribal groups, said Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga.

At least three policemen were killed in the attacks along with six of the attackers, who were armed with guns, spears and machetes. Seventeen others were arrested and are in custody, he said.

Enanga said the attacks were likely carried out by “radical elements” within a group known as Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu, whose members – from the Bakonzo tribe – have long had a tense relationship with the neighboring Bamba tribe.

The attacks took place in Ntoroko, Bundibugyo and Kasese, three Ugandan districts with a history of volatility fuelled by suspected rebel activity. Uganda’s military has said there are fears that a Ugandan Islamic extremist rebel group known as ADF, which launched a violent insurgency in the area in the 1990s, is trying to regroup. The group’s fighters now operate in neighboring eastern Congo.

Enanga, the police spokesman, said security officials are questioning the suspects to establish the motive behind the Saturday attacks.

Angelo Izama, a Ugandan analyst with a regional security think tank called Fanaka Kwawote, said the Bakonzo and Bamba regularly fight over natural resources, especially farmland, and that some may feel that the security forces are not always fair arbiters in such conflicts.

He said it was possible that some members of the local police were being “individually targeted.”

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