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REVEALED: Security agencies puzzled over soldiers involved in armed robberies

Two UPDF soldiers nabbed in a foiled robbery and paraded before the press. Security agencies have been left in shock as the number of crimes has had UPDF personnel involved. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The rising spate of armed robberies involving soldiers has puzzled security agencies, further complicating efforts to stem the crime.

PML Daily has learnt that the men behind these robberies are highly trained and coordinated, which has made it difficult to apprehend them.

Hardly two weeks after armed thugs raided a hardware shop in Nansana Municipality, Wakiso District, on Tuesday morning, armed men killed two mobile money operators and robbed them of an unspecified amount of cash in Zzana on Entebbe Road.

This becomes the eighth such armed robbery in Kampala Metropolitan area in the past six weeks.

Just like the Nansana robbery, the armed thugs were riding motorcycles without number plates.

Eight days ago, the police and Internal Security Organisation foiled a robbery by three heavily armed soldiers at Fang Fang Hotel in Nakasero in the city centre.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, police officers engaged suspected armed robbers in a shootout at the suspects’ residence in Masanafu in Rubaga Division.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, Superintendent of Police Patrick Onyango, said the gunmen shot and injured one of the police officers. The policeman, who was shot in the leg, was admitted to hospital.

According to police, one of the two suspects, a serving Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier, escaped. Police recovered two guns belonging to the UPDF and two magazines containing 32 bullets. The guns had UPDF serial numbers.

Sources investigating the matter on Wednesday told this website that judging from the manner in which the robberies of Nansana and Zzana were carried, highly trained soldiers have a hand in them.

The police suspect that the soldier, who escaped in the Rubaga incident, is part of the group that has been behind armed robberies in Nansana Municipality in Wakiso District and Rubaga Division in Kampala City.

“The suspect on the run is Richard Kasirye. A big reward awaits any member of the public with information that can lead to his arrest,” said Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango.

Security agencies also argue that sophisticated robbers are also able to beat CCTV camera surveillance using masks. In the Nansana robbery, the gunmen had masks. Government has so far spent at least Shs560 billion on the installation of CCTV cameras in Kampala and neighbouring areas.

The deployment of thousands of LDUs around Kampala and Wakiso has not done much to deter armed criminals.

President Museveni, in September last year, issued a 10-point security strategy which he assured the country would stop or eliminate the criminals.

He said the government would instal CCTV cameras, introduce electronic vehicle number plates, give police officers radio calls and drones and deploy 24,000 Local Defence Unit personnel to police Kampala. Since then, 6,000 LDUs have been trained and deployed in the city centre to conduct patrols to check criminals.

According to the police 2018 crime report released recently, more than 7,000 robbery cases were registered last year, higher than the 6,850 cases reported in 2017.

A total of 2,181 cases involved the use of lethal weapons and targeted items included motor vehicles, motorcycles and cash.

Robbery. A total of Shs8b was robbed in 2018 alone, said police, who recovered Shs247m

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