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No new rebel group in Gulu! Police disclaims as residents vow to lynch suspected members

Aswa regional Police spokesperson, Jimmy Patrick Okema has refuted the claim that a new Rebel group is operating in Gulu. (PHOTO/File)

GULU- Police in Aswa river region has dismissed the claim that a new Rebel group is operating in Gulu as recently reported on the media as misconception and error reporting.

“The word “Rebel” was either misconceived or mentioned by error by the reporter but its true B13 is a violent criminal group majorly consisting of street goons formed for illicit survival means.” Said Jimmy Patrick Okema the Regional Police spokesman refuted in a statement.

While appearing on NBS TV, earlier this week, Gulu RDC Major Santo Okot Lapolo says a new rebel gang known as B13 is carrying out attacks on people at night in Gulu town.

The locals say that the B13 criminal gangs who allegedly operate in Bungatira Sub County in Gulu district are a menace to the security of the district but also within the central town of Gulu, there are unrest cause by criminal gangs comprising of both homeless adults and street children commonly known as Aguu, the rowdy crew lives in the Municipality.

However, Okema reported that last night a combined force of the army and police arrested scores in the on-going crackdown and strongly warns those who failed to show up risk losing their lives.

“Last night we also mounted an operation to crack down the so called B 13 criminal group in Bungatira Sub County. We have arrested 5 of its members out of the 10 list we have. They are Geoffrey Komakech, 21, Godfrey Laroker, 23, Moses Opwonya, 21, Emmy Odia, 23 and Charles Oweka, 24.  We are yet to interrogate them properly.” Okema noted.

“We advise those remaining or in hiding to report themselves else we ‘lobo obidok ikom lobo’ Acholi words meaning “dust shall return to dust.” Okema strongly warns.

According to Okema the B13 are criminal gangs that terrorize people for a living. The gang mugs and grabs items from its victims. They are also involved in robbery, aggravated robbery, assaults, theft, and burglary, among other crimes.

In less than two weeks over 67 of its members have been remanded to Gulu Central Prison.

Police says most members of these criminal gangs are people born on the street and some of them are also producing children on the streets which has led to the formation of both adults and juveniles among the goons who continue to terrorize the northern town that is seeking city status.

Further findings from police indicates that some of the members of the criminals gangs emerged as a result of irresponsible parenthood while others are orphans resulting from the 20-year-instability caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war in northern Uganda.

Mr Okema says that what has worsened the situation most Non-Governmental Organizations that were initially helping the group pulled out due to expiry of their mandate and donor reluctance leaving the street children to fend for themselves.

The level of unemployment has also played a big role in creating these unruly cliques who aren’t engaged in any productive activities like casual labour, with no option left to survive, they have resorted to violent crime as a viable shortcut.

What do locals think about the gangs?

Recently, in a community policing meeting at Cuk P’Oweka, residents of Industrial areas in Layibi division one of the most affected areas in Gulu unanimously vowed to eliminate the situation by killing the criminal gangs upon arrest.

One of the residents only identified as Komakech, who is the Chairperson of Business community in the Gulu’s Industrial area argued that should the government and other stakeholders relax to fight the criminal gangs, people should not be surprised because such desperate youth can be empowered by dangerous people to form a rebel team.

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