Insecurity Grips Mbale City: Residents Fearful Amidst Rising Attacks

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Insecurity Grips Mbale City: Residents Fearful Amidst Rising Attacks
A man sustained injuries while fighting offer his assailants

SECURITY | Residents of Mbale City are deeply troubled by the surge in insecurity, with recent violent incidents instilling heightened fear in the community.

The latest tragedy unfolded with the fatal assault of Gabriel Omulala, 35, from Kidongole in Bukedea District and a lecturer at Kumi University.

According to police reports, the harrowing ordeal unfolded on the morning of April 29 around 5:30am. Omulala reportedly encountered two assailants riding a motorcycle and clad in black jackets.

Without provocation, they launched a brutal attack, inflicting severe cuts to his head before robbing him of his possession.

The assailants then left Omulala for dead in a trench along Nabuyonga Rise Street, located opposite Mbale Junior School.

Residents discovered Omulala and promptly rushed him to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital.

However, due to what authorities described as a lack of sufficient attention, Omulala was later transferred to Mbale People’s Clinic from where he succumbed to his injuries.

This distressing incident follows on the heels of another attack on Sam Bukuwa by unknown assailants wielding machetes in Namakwekwe estate, within Mbale Northern City Division.

Bukuwa was reportedly assaulted as he approached his gated compound, sustaining a severe head injury.

Another resident who intervened was also injured in the scuffle, both currently under medical care.

Juma, an employee of Anyalisa Supermarket, recounted a harrowing encounter with these criminals. He was accosted by a gang of young men demanding his phone upon returning home at 10am.

A struggle ensued, culminating in a vicious machete attack. The assailants pursued him to his house, but fortunately, he was rescued by neighbours who responded to his cries for help.

However, he sustained a cut on his thumb.

“I tried fighting them, little did I know they had machetes,” Juma said.

Bashir Mugamba, the defense secretary of Gudio Cell, has revealed alarming statistics, indicating that within Namakwekwe alone, there have been at least 10 victims of such attacks.

The assailants, often riding motorcycles, swiftly corner their victims and demand valuables such as phones, bags, and cash.

Those who dare to resist face brutal violence to silence any potential alarms. They attack pedestrians and those on motorcycles.

These brazen attacks predominantly occur between 10pm and 6am, with specific areas along Nabuyonga Rise, Namakwekwe estate, Kiteso, Nambozo road, Kampala road and Nkoma identified as frequent hotspots.

Residents' vulnerability to such attacks has been amplified by security lapses and inadequate street lighting.

The majority of solar security lights installed in the central business district including along Nabuynga under the World Bank funded Uganda Support to Municipal Infrastructural Development project blacked out two years ago and are pending restoration by city authorities.

The incidents have sent shockwaves throughout the community, highlighting the pressing need for enhanced security measures in Mbale City.

Residents are left shaken and fearful in the wake of such brazen violence, prompting calls for immediate action from local authorities.

Security response

In response to the escalating insecurity plaguing Mbale, Resident City Commissioner Rex Achila, who also serves as the head of security, has announced decisive actions to address the situation.

The RCC revealed that surveillance has been boosted by the collaborative intervention of the Police Flying Squad and military intelligence with the objective of netting the culprit.

"We have agreed that we continue to have 24/7 surveillance of the movement of suspected persons in the city," Achila said.

"I am reliably informed that these guys have been identified and we are tracking them.”

Drawing from successful tactics implemented during a similar crisis in Busamaga, Nauyo and Kampala road in August 2023, the goal is to apprehend the culprits and restore peace to Mbale City swiftly.

Looking ahead, an extraordinary meeting of the security committee has been scheduled for next week to bolster security measures, particularly to secure the upcoming census exercise.

As authorities confront these challenges, the Resident City Commissioner has called upon community members to heighten their vigilance and cooperate closely with security forces.

The residents are encouraged to report suspicious individuals or activities to local council leaders promptly.

Additionally, the commissioner advocates for the implementation of a neighborhood-wide alarm system, for swift responses to potential threats.

It's worth noting that these attacks have been recurrent since 2023, but the situation temporarily improved following decisive security interventions, including the arrest of some criminal gangs.

However, the resurgence of these attacks underscores the urgent need for renewed interventions and collaborative efforts to restore peace and security to Mbale City.

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