KAMPALA, 21 July (IRIN) - At least 40 armed Ugandan cattle rustlers were on Wednesday killed by Kenyan warriors and security forces when they crossed into neighbouring Kenya to raid cattle, Ugandan military officials said.
The army spokesman in northeastern Uganda, Lt Gabriel Lomongin, told IRIN that up to 90 Karamojong raiders from Uganda had on Tuesday night crossed into Kenya to steal cattle from the Turkana community.
Lomongin said Ugandan security forces had prior knowledge of the planned attack, and had alerted their counterparts in the northwestern Kenyan area of Lodwar.
"We learnt about the planned attack and we contacted out colleagues in Lodwar so they would not be taken unawares," he said on Thursday.
"The group of between 70 and 90 warriors attacked, and the prepared Turkanas and GSU [General Service Unit] in Kenya killed about 40 of them, including a notorious Bokora [Karamojong clan] warrior," Lomongin added.
Kenyan police spokesman Jaspher Ombati confirmed the attacks, but said he was not aware of the number of fatalities. He said, however, that the Ugandan raiders had killed a 12-year-old Kenyan boy.
Humanitarian sources in Kenya said one Kenyan had been killed and another four injured during the clashes - the wounded had been transported to a hospital in Lokichokio, northwestern Kenya.
Dozens of civilians were killed in northeastern Uganda last week as the Ugandan army battled armed rustlers accused of stealing livestock from a rival clan.
Uganda's northeastern Karamoja region is notoriously lawless, and the frequent cattle raids between the Karamojong and their neighbours on the Kenyan side of the border, the Turkana and the Pokot, often result in death and destruction of property.
Cattle rustling among the pastoral border communities has turned increasingly bloody in the recent past, as warriors have discarded traditional weapons like bows and arrows in favour of illegally acquired guns.
In the wake of last week's clashes in Uganda, the army has embarked on a campaign to forcibly disarm the Karamojong. Previous efforts to encourage the warriors to voluntarily surrender their weapons have proved fruitless.
The governments of Uganda and Kenya in June agreed to simultaneously disarm their border communities.
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