All encroachers were barred from doing any form of cultivation for 21 days at Kagombe Forest Reserve
Two suspected forest encroachers are admitted at St. Ambrose Health Centre IV after being shot and wounded as a gang mobilized to attack Uganda Peoples’ Defense Forces (UPDF) soldiers deployed to guard Kagombe Forest Reserve in Kibaale district.
Kibaale District Police Commander, David Otabong, identified the victims as Everest Habimana, 64, and his son Dan Akampurira, 25, all residents of Nyamugusa village in Kabasekende Sub County.
Otabong told New Vision that the suspects were shot in self-defence on Saturday at around 6pm after threatening to injure environment police and UPDF who were deployed to protect the forest reserve from encroachment.
“Preliminary investigations so far indicate that the suspected forest encroachers tried to harm environment police and UPDF while in an operation to crack down on fresh clearance of the forest in preparation for this season,” said Otabong.
The suspected encroachers deny attacking UPDF and the environmental police saying they were merely shot at.
Habimana said he had gone to tether his cows when he heard his son screaming for help and when he went to the scene, he was also attacked and shot twice in the leg and thigh.
“I didn’t know what was happening but only heard my son screaming for help and when I rushed to the scene I was shot at also,” said Habimaana.
The victims revealed that they migrated from Kisoro about three years ago and have been cultivating their crops in the forest reserve for two years.
“We have been planting beans, maize, and bananas in the reserve but when we were told to vacate the reserve, we had already planted our crops and waiting to harvest them” said Habimana.
Annet Orishaba a nurse at the health centre said, their condition is improving.
“The only challenge is that they are still failing to raise money for an x-ray because we want to ascertain whether their bones were shattered by bullets. But I’m optimistic that their condition will improve” said Orishaba.
The UPDF and environment police deployed to guard the forest reserve established a barracks at nearby Muziizi.
All encroachers were barred from doing any form of cultivation for 21 days to enable Uganda Land Commission re-open the forest boundaries on 10th March and the period is about to expire.
Fredrick Atugonza the Kagombe forest supervisor told New Vision that the encroachers are becoming hostile to the security forces who are armed which is very unfortunate.