By Aloysious Kasoma
One Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) soldier was shot dead after more than 200 inmates escaped from Moroto Government Prison. The inmates escaped at around 5:00 pm on Wednesday after reportedly breaking into the armoury and stealing about 30 guns.
The prisoners are reported to have fled towards Tapac and Loputuk sub-counties. A prisons officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said the inmates attacked an officer on duty and broke into the armoury. Gunfire rocked Moroto town for at least 30 minutes as a combined force of the army, police and prisons engaged the armed inmates in a gunfire exchange.
Moments later two military helicopters were seen hovering over Mt. Moroto where the inmates are believed to have been hiding. Grace Nali a crime preventer in Singila Cell, Moroto municipality said they heard gunfire and saw a lot of inmates running.
“Some were naked while others were in their yellow uniform. They were armed and were exchanging fire with the security forces,” said Nali.
Last week, Moroto Government Prison was closed to new inmates after 30 inmates tested positive to Covid-19. All the 30 were evacuated to Jinja isolation centre for treatment while over 200 other inmates were placed under quarantine.
The Commissioner-General of Prison Dr Johnson Byabashaija said that some of the over 200 prisoners who on Wednesday escaped from Moroto Government prison, were COVID-19 contacts who were waiting for their results,
Byabashaija also confirmed they had recaptured three fugitives, one was killed and that the pursuit was still on.
“We had a breakout in Moroto. 14 guns were taken. We have recaptured 3 of the fugitives alive. One has been put out of action. Pursuit continues. It’s a matter of time. A very unfortunate incident indeed. Unfortunately, those who escaped are Covid-19 suspects who were waiting for their results,” Byabashaija said.
By Wednesday evening, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces led by the 3rd Division Commander Brigadier Joseph Balikuddembe and Police led by the Mt. Moroto Regional Police Commander Gerald Twishimye were and still hunting for the armed prisoners.
Sources confirmed that one soldier who was pursuing the prisoners lost his life after he was shot at by the fugitives.
Three helicopters were deployed on Wednesday to assist in the hunt including a helicopter gunship and images captured aboard the choppers showed prisoners still dressed in their yellow uniforms scattered in the shrubs in different directions as they climbed the mountain.
The search was however called off at night and resumed on Thursday morning. There had also been reinforcements for both the army, police and prison authority to ensure the fugitives are apprehended.