On 5th July 2014 some of Museveni's security machinery installations in the Rwenzori region were attacked by unknown people. The attack came took place a few days after Museveni had installed the Bamba cultural leaders amidst protests from the Rwenzururu kingdom. It also took place when Museveni in a bid to resurrect the Tooro/Konjo hatred was preaching about the injustices that Bamba and Bakonjo suffered under the Tooro kingdom. He also intended to divert the Konjo from protesting the creation of the Bwamba kingdom from the Rwenzururu kingdom.
In Bundibugyo which was the epic of the attack, the desperate attackers killed a number of security personnel before taking 20 guns, according to government. It was only government installations that were attacked. The first attack was on the controversial National Identity Card registration center at Kikyo a number of registration kits were destroyed before taking off with one gun. The recently militarised game rangers out post at Ntandi lost two guns to the attackers.
At the controversial Rwenzururu kingdom shrine, two soldiers were killed at a gun taken. At the newly crowned Bamba king's palace, a policeman was injured and his gun taken. An attack on the army's 39th Bn barracks, left a captain and another soldier injured. Of course there must have been more damage but in order for the army to protect its image, some information must be kept secret. In Kasese, an attack on a police outpost at the weigh bridge saw one policeman killed and another injured before taking off with two guns. In the newly created district of Ntoroko, a soldier was ambushed and killed before taking his gun.
Three attackers were killed at Kibuku, 45 at the army barracks in Bundibugyo (though the press initially saw 23 bodies lying at the army compound), three were killed at Stanbic Bank and two were killed at the Taxi Park.
In Bundibugyo, none civilians were targeted by the attackers. In Karugutu, a stray bulled killed a three-year-old at Kibuku during exchange of fire. The 11 civilians including a soldier who was on leave that were killed in Kasese seem to have been victims of a coincidence since it does not match with the pattern of attack else where.
ARMY HASTY BURIAL OF ATTACKERS IN MASS GRAVE
On 7th the army hastily buried 53 of the 55 bodies of the attackers on Bundibugyo. Two dead bodies were claimed by the relatives. One of them is mentioned as Ramadhan Gasasira (the only non Mukonjo) among the dead. He is a Munyarwanda/Mulaalo whom a local resident had brought from Kiboga to look after his cattle.
The army spokesman said that Gasasira was among the attackers and that he had been indoctrinated by the attackers to help them in attacking. This position contradicts the assertion that the attacks were tribal clashes. The same spokesman stated that the army would keep watch on the mass grave until the bodies would decompose. What are the identities of those who were killed and buried by the army in a mass grave????
A couple of hours after the attack exiled General David Sejusa issued a statement claiming that the attacks were defiance against the government. This prompted Museveni to issue a hasty statement suggesting that the attack was orchestrated by the Bakonjo and their Rwenzururu kingdom though he could not mention any Mwamba who was attacked, injured or killed.
He boosted about how his army had killed 45 of the attackers before repulsing them and capturing 65 suspected attackers. His unfortunate statement ignited tribal sentiments that led the Bambas with the assistance of security forces to attack the Konjos residing in Bundibugyo thus the current secret mass graves being unearthed.
The government persistently insisted that the attacks were tribal clashes. There is no iota of evidence of a single Mwamba who was killed, injured or whose property was destroyed by the attackers. The only civilians allegedly killed by the attackers were the Basongora in Kasese district. Among them was a soldier who was on leave who was burnt to death together with some members of his family. If the Bakonjo intended to attack the Basongora, there were more easy targets than the soldier.
The family names of the soldier in question i.e. Nabimanya, Kwakunda, Bariho, Katushabe, Nduhukire, Bainoburyo etc. are Kinyankole names. This suggests that they are Himas (Museveni's ethnic) and may have been targeted because of that. However, it is also possible they were migrants into the area where there exists land conflicts. The deceased soldier's wife is reported to have stated that the attackers were their neighbours whom they knew by name and face. She added that she had later on taken her surviving daughter to Kyankwanzi in Kiboga for refuge.
The Basongora don't have such names and have no links with Kiboga in Buganda. There is a high possibility of the soldiers’ family belongs to the Balalo community who have been roaming Hoima, Masindi and Kiboga and clashing with locals there. Therefore, the killing of civilians in Kasese may have been a coincidence since it does not match with the pattern of attacks that took place in Bundibugyo where no single ethnic Mwamba was targeted.
SECRET MASS GRAVE
The government is exhuming three mass graves so far discovered in Bundibugyo. Initially, the government and security forces in particular dismissed claims of the existence of mass graves in rural Bundibugyo. He even offered to facilitate the authorities with transport to visit the area but in vain.
The NRM chairman of the area, a one Mumbere formally reported about their existence and the perpetrators but was brushed aside. The area GISO and another councillor who reported about the same were instead arrested. The said NRM chairman who is a Mukonjo had to petition the IGP but in vain. Earlier on the LC I chairman one Bataringaya Atwooki (Mwamba) down played the reports saying that only five injured attackers who were retreating died in his area and that RDC and Col Mawa Dula gave them a go-ahead to bury them in a mass grave.
Did the five die at the same time and place!!!!!!! What was retired Col Mawa Dula who is a Mukonjo and NRM leader in Kasese doing in Bundibugyo at the time? Now, the mass graves have come to light and are being exhumed. 15 bodies have been exhumed from three mass graves so far. During the exercise, the local area LC I chairman went into hiding. Some locals state that some of the bodies of other victims of reprisal attacks were ties to heavy stones and thrown into the swamp.
These secret mass graves no doubt are for the Bakonjo victims residing in Bundibugyo who were killed by Bambas and security forces at the instigation of Museveni's inciting and inflaming statement. A councillor of Bundirombi LC I confided to the Saturday Monitor that they were not concerned about those that were killed by the army Police during the attack but were angered by the Baamba who killed their sons who were retreating from battle with government.
"We only attacked government institutions. We were not after our Bamba and Babwisi brothers because if wanted we knew where their families were and we would have killed a good number. Even when we attacked the Omudhinga's (Bamba king) palace we knew where the king was but we were not interested in his life."
MASS ARRESTS, TORTURE, DETENTIONS, COURT MARTIAL AND SURRENDERS
Initially security forces claimed to have captured 65 suspected attackers in Bundibugyo. Since then a joint security swoops by the police army and ISO have arrested, tortured and detained hundreds more Bakonjos from both Kasese and Bundibugyo. A total of 171 suspects have been charged before the General Court Martial.
Of these, 51 are from Kasese and they opposed their trial in the Court Martial. The constitutional court had earlier annulled the trial of civilians in the Court Martial. Of course Museveni brought in the court Martial simply to regularise the detention without trial as has always been the case with political offences.
Security forces claim that since the alleged attacks a total of 157 suspected attackers have surrendered and 16 guns out of the 22 allegedly stolen were recovered. The so called surrendering suspects surrender without firearms but the army does not tell us how they are recovering the arms.
The so called reception centers are holding grounds for those rounded up after graduating from the secret interrogation and screening centers by security agencies. Not all those who are rounded up make it to the so called reception centers. The dead and seriously maimed victims of torture may never be known until HRW releases its reports months later. It is also more likely that those alleged to be surrendering are Bakonjo from Bundibugyo who are victims of government inspired reprisal attacks.
The Bambas could be taking advantage of the situation to harass the Konjos so that they abandon their land and other property in Bundibugyo. The army and the Police were attacked, they are the victims, the complainants, the investigators, prosecutors and judges in the ongoing trial!!!! There must be a lot of atrocities by security agencies taking place in that area.
GOVERNMENT'S OFFICIAL REACTION
Museveni was the first to give a statement pertaining to the incidents. Later the Minister of Defense who is a suspect (being an ethnic Munyabindi opposed to the Rwenzururu kingdom) also gave a statement on the floor of parliament. The later gave figures that contradicted those of Museveni. While Museveni said that it was 51 attackers killed, the Minister said that it is 68 attackers who were killed.
The army claims to have buried 53 bodies of suspected attackers. When and where were the rest killed and buried respectively?? How many arms were recovered from the 68 killed attackers? Not even a single gun was recovered from the bodies of the killed attackers. Were they suicide bombers! Like any other attack, there ought to have been injuries on the enemy side; where are the injured? Government has never reported any injured attackers! How many Bambas were killed or injured by the attacking Bakonjos? The answer is none! We wait for the government official statement on the secret mass graves now being exhumed.
REWNZORI KINGDOM REACTS
Rwenzori kingdom rightly rejected the government version of ethnic clashes. Instead, the kingdom advised government not to be biased but to get to the bottom of the root cause of the problem. The kingdom had six of its Ministers arrested and charged. The king militarily prepared for a military assault on his palace but was called off at the last minute.
Had the government dared to assault the palace the result would have had dire consequences. The Rwenzururu king has maintained that the attacks were the design of those opposed to his kingdom. At the time of the attacks, Museveni had bolstered security for the Banyabindi in Kasese who were preparing to commemorate the alleged massacre of their tribesmen by the Rwenzururu fighters during the 60s.
This was amidst protests by the Bakonjo but since the powerful Minister of Defence is a Munyabindi and a strong opponent of the Rwenzururu kingdom, security had to be provided. Unlike in Kayunga where government stopped the Kabaka of Buganda from visiting for fear of a security breach, in Kasese it provided security for the minority Banyabindi to go ahead with their provocative function. In a bid to further weaken the Rwenzururu kingdom, Museveni intended to install a one Mugisha as the cultural head of the Banyabindi.
Museveni claimed that there had been an intelligence failure. He blamed ISO in particular. ISO chief Brig. Balya disagreed with him by insisting that its only an that can pinpoint who is to take the blame because according to him intelligence gathering in the area is a collective responsibility of the army, police, ISO and the political leaders.
If it is true that the attacks were carried out by local peasants, then such attacks are an expression of dissatisfaction with the system it is difficult for security agencies to detect and deter a mass uprising.
Blaming the intelligence will not save Museveni from the bitter truth. What about the burning of over 1000 people in Kanungu by Kibwetere's religious cult? Was ISO not in place? Poorly armed Alice Lakwena's Holly Spirit Movement managed to overran the army all the way from northern Uganda to Jinja. The ADF managed to overran Mpondwe, Bwera, Kasese and Buseruka in Hoima. Was ISO not present in these areas? The fact is that where there is proliferation of intelligence and security agencies, effective coordination is compromised.
In the recent case of Rwenzori, where it is the president who is perpetuating instability, it is very difficult for security agencies to pay attention. When there is a coup attempt, the only person that is suspected is the President. In the Uganda under Museveni, security agencies are preoccupied with protecting Museveni, his family, his cohorts, and their loot with no time of protecting the country, its people and their property.
From the above facts it can be concluded that the attacks targeted government institutions like the police and the army. There is no alleged attack that was shot, injured and then captured in action. The identities of those who were shot dead and hurriedly buried will never be known.
Those alleged to have been captured in action have denied the charges. Those alleged to be reporting at the reception centers are doing so without arms. The government is not disclosing the method it is using to recover some of the earlier stolen arms and the culprits.
If it is true that the courageous attacks on security installations were carried out by civilians, then it shows the level of disparity among the masses to dislodge Museveni from power by force. It is a challenge to those political leaders in the opposition who are posturing to be having a plan "B" to wake up to the call and provide leadership to the masses who are more than ready. However, the message was well sent and received by Museveni.
The government acknowledges that the attacks were well coordinated but falls short of reconciling the fatal losses allegedly sustained by the attackers and the so called good coordination. Could the well coordinated attacks have inflicted heavier losses on the security forces than the public eye can see!
On the other hand, if the attack had been blessed by the Rwenzururu Kingdom, it would have been more fatal. Unlike other kingdoms in Uganda, the Rwenzururu kingdom is a product of a protracted and bitter armed resistance. Among the Konjos are many former Rwenzururu fighters, former NALUs, NRA deserters and veterans etc. The king himself has a sound military background. It is highly probable that the former Rwenzururu freedom movement still has its arsenals well reserved high up in the mountains in case of a "rainy day". Moreover, given the secretive nature of the Konjos and their unshakable solidarity and determination, it would take a few hours for Kingdom to pass a message and have all Konjos to desert the security forces and they assemble before their king for war.
Even if they did not have reserves of arms, if they needed them would simply go to their cousins in the Congo and acquire as much as they needed instead of attacking police and army barracks bare handed. Well, the army is reviving the Alpine Mountain Brigade to be permanently stationed in the Rwenzori Mountain. Is to prevent alleged tribal clashes or the tightly guarded secret. Why has the government not yet made efforts to institute reconciliation mechanisms between the so called tribes that clashed last three weeks ago.
The real truth is yet to come out.
INFORMATION IS POWER.