Uganda’s army said on Monday it had killed more than 60 gunmen who attacked police and army posts in the west on Saturday, while extra troops had been deployed to restore security in an area near the country’s new oil fields.
Authorities have said the gunmen are from a local militia and had no connection to the Islamist rebel group ADF-NALU.
Uganda worries that ADF-NALU, if left unchallenged in Congo’s loosely governed east, poses a threat to its oil fields in the Albertine rift basin where Tullow Oil, Total and China’s CNOOC are preparing for commercial production, possibly starting in 2017.
The gunmen had killed 17 people, including police and soldiers, on Saturday evening when they attacked three police stations and a military barracks in western Uganda, an area once a focus for an Islamist insurgency.
“Since we launched our response we have now killed more than 60 of those attackers and we’re continuing the hunt,” Ninsiima Rwemijuma, spokesman for Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) told Reuters. The army said on Sunday it had killed 41.
“We have also boosted our deployment in the area to step up patrols and ensure local people feel safe enough to return to their homes,” he said, adding that dozens of the attackers had been detained and were helping identify other assailants.
In the hours following the attacks, Rwemijuma said some panicked residents fled their homes for safety in nearby towns.
The ADF-NALU Islamist insurgents fought the Ugandan government in the late 1990s and early 2000s from bases in Western Uganda along the border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
They were eventually defeated and forced to flee into the jungles of eastern DRC where they have been hiding.