Security steps up operations against bows, arrows use in Karamoja

Karamoja residents resort to wildlife poaching, several arrested
A Karamojong hunting.

Moroto, Uganda | URN | The joint security forces have launched a vigorous operation targeting the use of bows and arrows following an increase in civilian killings by suspected cattle rustlers in the Karamoja sub-region. Bows and arrows, which are crucial weapons for the Karimojong people, especially herdsmen who had their firearms confiscated during the disarmament exercise, have become a prevalent choice.

These homemade weapons are often smeared with poisonous substances, making them even more lethal. Michael Longole, the Mt Moroto Regional Police Spokesperson, says that many suspected warriors, having lost their firearms, have resorted to using bows and arrows as dangerous weapons.

The security forces have intensified their operations against these weapons, resulting in the recent arrest of six individuals found in possession of nine bows and 45 arrows during a patrol in Moroto municipality. Longole announced that the suspects would face charges for being in possession of dangerous weapons and would be taken to court as joint offenders.

He also warned the community to surrender any bows and arrows to the security agencies to avoid becoming victims of the ongoing operations.

Residents have expressed support for the ban on bows and arrows, emphasizing their potential for causing harm. Julius Akol, a resident of Natumukasikou ward, noted that arrows laced with poisonous substances can quickly kill a person. He questioned why security forces had disarmed guns but neglected to address the issue of bows and arrows, which are equally deadly.

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Anne Napeyok, another resident, shared that cattle rustlers had resorted to using bows and arrows due to their silent nature, which doesn’t attract attention like gunshots. “‘It’s better they shoot you with the gun because at least you can hear the sound when they are cocking it, also the sound alone can attract attention from the neighbors unlike bow and arrows, which comes silently without any notice,” Napeyok said.

James Shilaku, the Abim Resident District Commissioner, revealed that recent attacks by suspected Karimojong warriors from Kotido, using bow and arrows, had resulted in casualties and forced residents to flee their villages out of fear for their lives. He assured the deployment of security forces to collaborate with the community in apprehending those responsible for terrorizing the locals.

On May 31, 2023, one UPDF officer was shot and injured by suspected criminals using arrows during a night security detail to safeguard a community kraal in Loputuk village and its surrounding areas.