An armed Rwandan soldier fled from Rwanda to Uganda

By Erasme Rugemintwaza

This saturday, December 18, 2021, a Rwandan soldier known as Ndagijimana was captured on Ugandan soil in Kabale District, with his gun.

The Rwandan soldier, identified as Ndagijimana, number 112574, was from Nyamicucu barracks in Burera district in the Alpha Task Force of the 17th Battalion, 501st Brigade, 2nd Division of the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) led by Gen Brig Jean Bosco Rutikanga. The Division is based in Northern Rwanda. The soldier entered Ugandan territory through the Butanda Sub County.

Angry Ugandan locals accused this soldier and the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) in general of crossing to Uganda with an intention of kidnapping Ugandans to take them to Rwanda for detention.

Ndagijimana was surrounded and disarmed by angry civilians. Fortunetly, he survived a lynching, saved by Mathias Arineitwe, the Butanda Sub County security officer while already injured on the upper right eye.

Ndagijimana has been taken initially to the custody of the local government waiting to be handed over to the Ugandan Army (UPDF). Meanwhile, the Ugandan newspapers report that he has been handed over to the chief of the 2nd Uganda People Defense Force(UPDF) Division in Kampala.

Ndagijimana is said to have been accompanied by a group of Rwandan soldiers until he entered Uganda. When Ugandan officials were asked about the soldier, they told the media that this was a serious security issue, not a news release. However, despite the fact that Rwandan soldiers are constantly patrolling the border with Uganda, many of them tend to cross the border into Uganda in search of food, tobacco and alcohol but some times kidnap ugandans living near the border. Ugandan police say Ndagijimana was found with an AK47 rifle and 27 rounds of ammunition.

This is not the first time this happened in the area. Also in 2019, Rwandan troops entered Ugandan territory anonymously, resulting in the deaths of 2 of them.

Rwandan troops frequently cross Ugandan border and return to Rwanda. In fact, since 2019, RDF soldiers from the 2nd Division operating in Northern Rwanda have been involved in a number of killings and kidnappings of Ugandans living near the border, as attested by the coffins of those killed and later sent to Uganda.

The Ugandan Ministry of Defense has repeatedly condemned the Rwandan military’s efforts to undermine Uganda’s sovereignty, especially as the Rwandan army has left innocent civilians dead. The perpetrators should be brought to justice. However, Kigali government does not act as if it is hiding behind it.

Various killings and kidnappings of Ugandans living on the border with Rwanda have not stopped since 2016, the year Rwanda began cracking down on Uganda claiming to be supporting dissidents who want to overthrow the regime in Rwanda.

The issue of insecurity on the Rwandan-Ugandan border, but especially due to the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF), is of great concern to the people living along the border. After their economy has been in shambles due to the closure of the border, since 2019.

Uganda accuses Rwanda of abducting SFC soldier

As reported to “The Rwandan”, a UPDF soldier has been ‘kidnapped’ at Uganda-Rwanda border.

Mr Godfrey Nyakahuma, the Kabale Resident District Commissioner confirms that Ndagijimana was saved by Mathias Arineitwe, the Butanda Sub County Security Officer. He said that Arineitwe first shot bullets in the air to disperse the locals who were determined to kill Ndagijimana. Mr. Nyakahuma hailed the locals for the improved vigilance against illegal entrants from Rwanda.

Moreover, this incident occurs at a time when Private Ronald Arinda, a Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) soldier attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC) is still being held in Rwanda.

Arinda, 23, a resident of Kabale District was on November 27, arrested from a cattle market in Burera District in Northern Province, a few metres away from the Uganda-Rwanda border.

Arinda who was on his pass leave was tricked to cross to Rwanda by Rwandan security informers claiming that they had some cattle they wanted to sell to him.

Rwandan security operatives have for many times been accused of crossing to Uganda and kidnaping Ugandans at gunpoint before whisking them to Rwanda for detention. Only this month, two Rwandan security operatives crossed about 100 metres from the border and kidnapped a 21-year-old Anthony Twijukye.

In May 2020, armed Rwandan security personnel crossed the border in Katuna Town Council and kidnapped Obed Nicholas Tugumisirize alias Kacucu.

The Uganda-Rwanda borders were closed by Rwandan President, Paul Kagame in February 2019. Kagame issued a travel advisory to the citizens against traveling to Uganda, saying their safety was not guaranteed.

He accused Ugandan authorities of abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas. Kagame also accused Uganda of hosting and facilitating dissidents especially from Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which have declared war on the Kigali government.

However, his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni has on several occasions refuted the claims saying they are baseless.