KAMPALA - Uganda's army said Friday it had restored order to a mountain region in the west of the country after tribal clashes claimed close to 100 lives.
Army spokesman Paddy Ankunda told AFP that a heavily-armed alpine force had been deployed to area area and was sweeping the Rwenzori Mountains, home to Africa's third highest peak, for the remnants of the attackers.
"The whole Rwenzori region is now peaceful. It's calm but the Alpine Brigade is on the heels of the attackers who have not surrendered," Ankunda said, adding that several guns stolen from police had so far been recovered.
Two more guns recovered by UPDF from Rwenzori violent attackers this afternoon bringing the total to 10 guns.— Paddy Ankunda (@defenceuganda) July 11, 2014
"The people need to know peace has returned to the area and the security forces are there to provide security," he added.
Assailants armed with machetes, spears and guns launched a series of surprise attacks Saturday and Sunday to massacre neighbouring rivals, with the army sending in extra troops to hunt down the fighters.
Five soldiers, five policemen and 11 civilians were also killed, making up a total of 96 dead -- most of them attackers who tried to storm police and army posts -- in the rural region that borders the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ugandan police have described the unrest as ethnic battles, with the local majority Bakonzo people trying to kill the minority Basongora people because of "long-standing differences of culture and over land," police spokesman Fred Enanga earlier this week.
"There is a tribal conflict. Some of the Bakonzo do not want the minority groups recognised as kingdoms within what they perceive to be the larger 'Kingdom of Rwenzori', with Bakonzo the dominant tribe," Enanga said.
Security forces have arrested more than 80 suspected fighters, and Enanga said those now in detention will face treason charges -- which carry the penalty of death or life imprisonment.
Both the army and police have denied the attacks were related to any rebel group, including the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist rebel group fighting the Ugandan government based in the DR Congo border region.
The ADF reportedly has ties to Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, which have also carried out attacks on Ugandan soil in retaliation for Kampala's support for an African Union force helping Somalia's internationally backed government.
UPDF says calm restored to mountain region