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Sporadic Shooting Persists on Kenya-Uganda Border

December 15, 1987

BUSIA, Uganda (AP) _ Army intelligence officers said Kenyans fired across the border sporadically Tuesday and stray bullets killed one Ugandan civilian and wounded a second, one day after a firefight between the East African neighbors.

A Uganda government source said National Resistance Army troops were told not to fire. Kenya’s permanent secretary for foreign affairs, Bethuel Kiplagat, said security police were told to hold their fire ″unless things got very hot.″

An Associated Press reporter who visited the Ugandan front saw Kenyans firing. Ugandan troops did not return fire while the reporter was on the scene.

Kenya said four Ugandans died in fighting Monday, with no Kenyan casualties.

Busia was nearly deserted, but a few remaining civilians said two Kenyan security police were killed, one Ugandan soldier was killed and one seriously wounded Monday.

What started the fighting remained unclear Tuesday. It was the most serious flareup since a diplomatic row a year ago between the neighbors.

Kiplagat said Monday’s hostilities began after 60 Ugandan troops crossed from Uganda’s border town of Busia into the Kenyan border town of the same name and opened fire. He said security police drove back the invaders, but the Ugandans returned with two truckloads of reinforcements and two tanks and started a firefight that lasted at least five hours.

Uganda has not officially commented on the affair.

Ugandan sources, however, claimed the Kenyans fired first, shooting at four National Resistance Army soldiers who moved close to the border to lay an ambush for smugglers.

Two Ugandan soldiers and two Kenyan security police were killed in the initial exchange, the Ugandans said.

The sources spoke on the condition they not be identified.

The area is known locally as ″Fool’s Market″ and is a popular route for smugglers. It is about 260 miles northwest of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, and 110 miles northeast of Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

Nearly 10,000 residents of Busia fled to towns farther inside Uganda after the firefight. The border post and customs offices closed indefinitely.

National Resistance Army intelligence sources said Kenya deployed a large number of soldiers across the border.

Kenya has remained silent on this, but Nairobi newspapers said 12 truckloads of paramilitary General Service Unit police were sent in as reinforcements during Monday’s fighting.

Kenya’s president, Daniel arap Moi, said Tuesday the hostilities were the result of Ugandan infighting.

″The Ugandans who are fighting among themselves are now trying to bring their conflicts into Kenya,″ he said.

″Steps will be taken to ensure that Kenyans are properly protected.″

Kenya earlier this year accused Uganda of spying and of plotting with Libya to try and undermine Moi’s Western-leaning government.

Uganda denied it and accused Kenya of harboring Uganda rebels and trying to wreck landlocked Uganda’s effort at reviving its civil war-torn economy.

Update hourly