At least ten South Sudanese youth belonging to the Nuer ethnic group have been arrested in a refugee camp in northern Uganda in connection with the death of four of their colleagues belonging to the Dinka ethnicity.
According to police reports, the two rival ethnic groups clashed following a heated argument which started from a video hall where they were watching a World Cup match between Brazil and Switzerland in a video hall that ended in a 1-1 draw.
The Dinkas were supporting Brazil while the Nuer were supporting Switzerland. It is alleged that the violent clash was sparked off when Thon Majok, a Dinka reportedly left the video hall, only to find his seat taken up by a Nuer who refused to hand it back. A fight ensued, drawing in both sets of youth leading to the death of four.
Three Dinkas were killed during the clashes including Thon Majok aged 18 and attached to Tika block four A cluster. Mabok Simak, 50 and Aleu Anei Aleu aged 39 both attached to Tika one cluster while the fourth Dinka identified as John Kuom Mayana, aged 13 and a resident of Tika four A died at Rhema hospital in Arua town on Wednesday. Since then, the Dinka have been mobilising to avenge the death of their colleagues.
Josephine Angucia, the police spokesperson for West Nile confirmed the arrest of the youth, whom she says were found hiding in the jungle. She explains that three were arrested on Wednesday while others were arrested on Thursday.
According to Angucia, the suspects are being detained at Yoro base camp police post awaiting transfer to Arua central police station where they are to face charges of murder and assault.
Angucia adds that following the clashes, police together with Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) have embarked on relocating the Dinka and the Nuer to different camps to avert further clashes.
"As police we’re doing our role of arresting and prosecuting the errant refugees who decided to take the law into their hands. We’re also doing a role of preventing further clashes, that is why there’s heavy deployment in the refugee camps. We’re also engaging them to stay peacefully at the refugee camp because this is a different country with its own rules and regulations. On the other side, were also monitoring the relocation of the refugees especially those two groups who were fighting to separate camps. They will be taken to Ugandan courts and can be imprisoned in our prisons." said Angucia.
"An example is, those refugees who rioted on 23rd May this year at Omogo, the ringleaders were arrested and brought to Arua central police station and nine of them were taken to court and remanded to Arua government prison until 27th June." she added.
It's not known why and how the two ethnic groups came to be camped together in the same cluster given the history of the fall out between Riek Machar a Dinka and vice president and Salva Kiir a Nuer president that tore apart the Republic of South Sudan ethnically nearly five years ago. The two leaders met this week in Ethiopia for the first time in two years in an attempt to try to restore peace in their country.