The arrest of 12 Kenyan fishermen by Ugandan security operatives has caused fresh tension in Lake Victoria islands in western Kenya.
In what is seen as retaliation after Kenyan security officials secured the release of their three police officers arrested by Ugandan soldiers last week, fishermen on the Kenyan side of the lake are in fear of a fresh wave of arrests.
Local politicians have reignited the debate on ownership of Migingo Island in Lake Victoria, saying they have been raising these issues yet the government has done nothing about it.
Barely a week after Ugandan authorities abducted three Kenyan police officers and five fishermen from Nambo Beach in Siaya County, they struck again on Saturday, seizing two boats.
Witnesses say the officers’ guns and phones were taken away before the officers were transferred to Namaingo in eastern Uganda by boat.
Siaya County Administration Police Commandant Patrick Lumumba said the incident involved up to eight soldiers on patrol who arrived in a Kenyan boat.
On Saturday, according to an incident reported at Usenge Police Station by Nambo Beach Management Unit chairman Gabriel Onyango at 4pm, two Kenyan boats – one with an engine and the other without – were confiscated by Ugandan soldiers.
According to Mr Crispin Nyaga, Usenge police boss, the soldiers were three, one in uniform and armed. They seized the boats, arrested six fishermen, and took away hundreds of kilogrammes of fish.
The boat without an engine belongs to a Mr Omollo. On board were fishermen Daniel Oyugi, John Liepa and Daniel Odhiambo.
The other boat is owned by Mr Atepe Okinya, and was being used by fishermen Evans Ochieng, Sadam Onyango and Kevin Otieno.
“The authorities took away about 400kgs of fish but released the fishermen,” said Mr Nyaga.
This time round, the Quick Response Team of the Administration Police of Kenya gave hot pursuit and rescued both fishermen and the boats, he said.
He added that the area needs frequent patrol by Kenyan officers to prevent unnecessary arrests by Ugandan soldiers.
A day earlier, six fishermen from Ringiti Island were arrested and released on Saturday after paying some money. The fishermen were arrested on Friday morning near the island while fishing.SH