YUMBE. Four South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) soldiers were on Saturday shot dead after they clashed with the UPDF soldiers at Maru village in Goboro parish, Kochi sub county, Yumbe district.
According to Mr Yusuf Taban, the local chairperson of Maru village, the SSPDF soldiers started disturbing the residents of the area on May 20.
He said the SSPDF soldiers came to attack the people of the village and took a power sow and 10litres of oil of a resident of the area and later, on May 21, they returned and told the people of the village to vacate the area because it belongs to them.
He said on May 23, the SSPDF soldiers again returned and demanded money and power sow from one called Mr Edward A'diga but told them that, he doesn't deal in log business and after failing in the mission, he was told to leave the area.
"These SSPDF soldiers could come in groups of 5-10 while armed and they continued disturbing the people up to May 28. The village members later became scared and started running away from the area", he said.
He added: "Following the public outcry, the UPDF soldiers at Goboro detach went for patrol at Fitinambaya trading centre in Maru village on Saturday May 30 that resulted into their clashing".
He said the SSPDF established a detach near Fitinambaya trading centre on South Sudan side and its risky for the residents of the area because they can easily cross to Ugandan side to attack them.
Mr Richard Andama, the Yumbe resident district commissioner and also the chairperson of security committee said the armed SSPDF soldiers who dressed in civilian entered deep on the Ugandan side with the aim of looting people's property.
He said looting of people's property has been very common along the Uganda-South Sudan border.
"When UPDF heard of the incident, they intervened but unfortunately the SSPDF soldiers after seeing them started firing bullets at the UPDF. In retaliation, the UPDF also started firing bullets at them", he said.
"In the process of exchanging fire, three of the SSPDF soldiers were shot died on the spot but one of them who got injured died some hours later away from the scene of the incident. The UPDF recovered five guns (one machine gun and four AK47 riffle)," he added.
He said the three dead bodies were handed over to the authorities from their counterpart in South Sudan at Afoji border.
The RDC said the security at Goboro is calm and more UPDF soldiers have been deployed in the area to avoid any possible revenge attack by the SSPDF soldiers and cautioned the refugees and the nationals against unnecessary crossing of the border.
Lt Lauben Ndifula, the UPDF public relations officer for West Nile region said there was some information from the locals that there were certain groups of gangs coming with guns and terrorising the areas of Goboro(Fitinambaya).
He said the gangs sometimes tell them to give them money, steal their phones and go back to South Sudan.
"We got a report that there were some groups of gun men coming in civilian attire so when our soldiers were doing some patrol, they landed on a group of about seven gun men then there was exchange of fire", he said.
He continued "In that process, three were killed on spot but the fourth one later died on the side of South Sudan. After the incident, we tried to cross check with our counterparts in South Sudan, then, we came to realise that the group belonged to South Sudan people’s defence forces(government soldiers)", he added.
He said since the soldiers were in civilian attire, they thought it was a rebel group trying to destabilise the country on the side of Uganda but they came to realise that they were government forces after exchange of fire.
Ndifula added that the soldiers entered one and a half kilometres deep into Uganda side and their aim was just to come and disturb the people at the border.
He said an explanation had already been made to the Juba government about the incident and that relative calm had returned in the area.