Three Ugandan government employees, including one of the country's top geologists, and two military personnel were killed by gunmen in the mineral-rich Karamoja region, military officials said Wednesday.
"Three geologists from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and two of their military escorts were killed on Monday (...) during a mineral mapping mission in Moroto district," 500km northeast of the capital Kampala, Ugandan 3rd Infantry Division commander Joseph Balikuddembe told AFP.
"Their translator tried to explain to the gunmen their mission in the area but the fighters, probably due to lack of information, opened fire, killing all five of them in cold blood," he said, adding that the translator had escaped. The victims included one of Uganda's leading geologists, Richard Kiggwe.
The remote and impoverished region bordering Kenya and South Sudan has been plagued by decades of insecurity, with widespread banditry and inter-clan cattle rustling. In addition to the above, the city has a number of other problems such as the lack of access to water, the lack of access to sanitation and the lack of access to health care.
The army commander and son of President Yoweri Museveni, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, has promised retaliation: "My Karimojong brothers! We have begged you to stop your life of theft and violence. We have begged you to stop attacking your neighbours in vain. You have refused our pleas! Well, now we are coming and hell is coming with us," he wrote on Twitter.
The government has regularly conducted operations, most recently in July 2021, to pacify the region and recover illegal weapons. According to official figures, 170 illegal guns and more than 15,000 stolen cattle have been recovered since last July.