A South Sudan minister says Ugandan troops have invaded the country and grabbed its territory displacing 300 South Sudanese.
On Tuesday, Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) deployed at Ngom Oromo Border Point in Lokung Sub County in Lamwo district to repulse an alleged invasion by South Sudanese nationals.
Mathew Ochen Akiya, the Lamwo District Chairperson told URN the South Sudanese led by Martin Okello, the head chief of Pajok Payam, a Luo ethnic group started entering the area on Friday claiming it is part of their territory.
He said they had erected a new border point at Limur, in Ngom Oromo Village, Licwar Parish, in Lokung Sub County, 14 Kilometers inside Uganda.
In the afternoon, UPDF reportedly engaged the invaders and evicted them from Ugandan land.
On Wednesday, Lt. George Musinguzi, UPDF 5th Division spokesperson, said calm had returned while Col. Stephen Mugerwa, the 5th Division Deputy Commander, said the army had captured four magazines loaded with ammunition, two South Sudan flags and other items.
Later the same day, South Sudanese gunmen returned and subjected the army to intense gunfire exchange leaving UPDF in control of the 9km disputed land.
But this is not what the Minister for South Sudan Local Government, Lokai Iko, told Eye Radio.
It was UPDF that invaded S.Sudan and grabbed land
According to Iko, more than 300 people have been displaced from their homes after the Ugandan army invaded and took control of Phogee, a border town in Magwi County.
Magwi County, also Magwe County, is a county in in southern South Sudan.
The county is located in Eastern Equatoria State, bordered to the west and north by Juba County, by Torit County to the north east, by Ikotos County to the southeast and by the Republic of Uganda to the south.
It houses Nimule, Pageri, Magwi, Palotaka and Pajok towns.
Minister Iko quotes residents who accused UPDF of entering and occupying territories more than 15 kilometers inside South Sudan on Friday.
It resulted in gunfire over the weekend which continued until Tuesday, in which ten local farmers went missing while the displaced were sent to Pajok payam.
Mr Iko told Eye Radio that the state government is holding discussions on the issue with their Ugandan counterparts.
“What is important is that, Juba and Kampala have to dialogue – have to reach a conclusion and settle this problem,” Iko stated.
Iko says Ugandan authorities also wanted to grade a road inside the state which sparked off tensions.
Army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday, they received the reports of their invasion and took matters politely to advise the intruders to leave the area but they were adamant.
Uganda claims about 200 armed South Sudanese destroyed several acres of crops and displaced 400 Ugandans.
“When UPDF tried to calm them, they responded with gun shots, thus forcing our men to use force against them,” Ankunda added.
He said the government would engage the leadership of South Sudan to amicably resolve the border disputes.
David Ngailo, a member of a joint committee formed last year to demarcate the borders between the two countries, told Eye radio they have no funds to do the work.
Historically, the inhabitants of Magwi County are ethnic Acholi; they constitute the largest significant ethnic Acholi community outside of the Acholi sub-region in Northern Uganda.
During the Second Sudanese Civil War, the Sudanese government-aligned SPLA-United established a Magwi corridor, establishing lines of communication with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Uganda in early 1993.
A counter-offensive by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in October 1995 recaptured the corridor.