Three refugees of Nuer origin have been killed in clashes involving two South Sudanese tribes, the Kuku and the Nuer in Palorinya settlement camp in Obongi district, northern Uganda.
Over 100 grass-thatched houses mainly belonging to Nuer refugees were set ablaze in the two-day tribal fight between the two ethnicities.
The clashes started on Monday at around 7:30 pm in Palorinya refugee settlement camp zone two in Kali village, Itula sub-county in Obongi district and went into the second day.
Josephine Angucia, the police spokesperson for West Nile confirmed the death of the three Nuers and said their bodies were taken to Obongi health centre IV for postmortem.
She added that two of the Nuers were reportedly killed on Monday night as they attempted to escape to their relatives in Bidi Bidi camp in Yumbe district. They fell into an ambush set up by the Kuku people and were reportedly clobbered to death and their bodies left in the bush, while one died on Wednesday after being admitted in critical condition.
Angucia said the bodies were found in the bush with bloodstains, adding that police in Obongi has arrested and detained over 26 refugees in connection with the killings.
Witnesses say the incident was sparked off when a Nuer youth allegedly stole four pieces of maize from a garden belonging to a Kuku family. He was then arrested and taken to his family members for punishment. The family reportedly agreed to solve the matter amicably the following day since it was already late.
The suspected thief, a Nuer, then claimed that his phone was stolen in the course of his arrest, and out of anger, his accuser reportedly picked a stick and beat the suspect which made the Nuer people react by burning down several houses belonging to the Kuku.
However, the Nuers were overpowered and chased out of their homes before some of their houses were also set ablaze. Reports say the situation still remains tense with members of Kuku and Nuer communities hunting for each other as hundreds of Nuer women and children now seek protection and accommodation from host communities.