Seven suspected M23 rebels from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been arrested in Kiruhura district.
The rebels have reportedly been recruiting Ugandans into their ranks as they fight to topple the government of President Joseph Kabila.
The Kiruhura District Police Commander, Norman Musinga says the rebels are to be transferred to Kampala for further interrogation by officers fromthe Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence(CMI).
Police sources say the group is led by 32 year old Reuben Kamuhangi of Nyankumba cell, Nyakashashara Sub County in Kiruhura district, who confessed upon his arreston Thursday that he has been coordinating the M23 recruitment exercise in Uganda for the last four months.
Kamuhangi and his accomplices were intercepted by police and other security operatives as the group prepared to set off for the DRC from where he had lured the new recruits that they would get a monthly salary of 350,000 shillings upon arrival.
DPC Musinga, who headed the operation to arrest the suspected rebels, says the group was intercepted as they set off to board a bus to Goma in North Kivu province, the seat of M23 rebels.
He identified other suspects as Albert Muyambi, 24, of Bukanga in Isingiro district, 19-year- old Livingstone Mafundo and Daniel Ntambara, 32, from Sembabule district. Others are Emmanuel Gumisiriza, 19, from Katovu Marongo in Lwengo district, 35 year old Julius Byabashaija of Kidera in Kamuli district and 23-year-old James Murisa, a Rwandan national. The group confessed that they had been recruited recently after their boss one Kamuhangi suspected to be of Rwandan origin told them that they would be working in gold mines and lumbering activities.
Kamuhangi had earlier told police that he has been in the business for four months with Sam Baguma of Ntinda Kampala adding that he has so far taken three men to DRC to join the M23 rebel group. He identified those already taken to Congo as one Ntambara, Kankiriho and Kiiza, all residents of Kiruhura district.
He says they have been using Mbarara- Kanungu road to connect to Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Rwizi Regional Police Commander Martin Abiru says they are still hunting for Sam Baguma who is alleged to have been working closely with Kamuhangi in the recruitment process. Abiru says their intelligence on the ground indicates that the M23 rebel recruitment exercise is going on underground in the districts of Ntungamo, Kiruhura Mbarara and Kisoro.
Nearly half a million people have been displaced due to the fighting between the DRC government and the M23 rebels who waged war in April last year. The United Nations has accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the rebels, but the two countries have vehemently denied the allegations, challenging the authenticity of the UN reports.
It is not yet clear how the UN will interpret this latest development, even as the Kabila government and the M23 leaders continue talking in Kampala to end the war.