There was drama and panic at St. Austin Catholic Church in Mbale town when over thirty heavily armed UPDF soldiers with AK47 assault rifles and antiterrorism police officers under the command of Mbale district police commander stormed the church for prayers leaving the civilian congregation scared for their lives.
But the Mbale central police station officer in charge Steven Ahweera blocked them from accessing the church with guns and disarmed them at the entrance of the church.
Ahweera asked the UPDF group leaders to return the guns to Mbale police station before coming back for the mass.
“I was also surprised to see our brothers from the UPDF come with heavy machine guns to attend mass fully armed. I had to first disarm them and we kept the guns until mass was over,” Ahweera said.
“It’s not professional to enter with guns in church as it may cause confusion while other Christians may get scared. We know security is paramount and that is why some of our police officers were left at the gates to guarantee security of the soldiers and Christians in the church,” he added.
Ahweera who led the group of UPDF, Police, Uganda world life Authority and other security operatives for prayer said that it’s now a must for security officers to attend church or mosque prayers.
“We have started this initiative to reduce the gap between Christians, Muslims and security personnel. We also want our officers to know that God exists other than trusting their guns,” Ahweera said.
The forces donated assorted items to church worth millions of shillings. The items included bags of cement, food, drinks, chicken, and wines among others.
Mbale district police commander, Peter Mugabi encouraged the security personnel to always support church works.
“We as forces encounter a number of challenges during time of executing our duties but because some of us trust in God we have always managed to over come,” Mugabi said.
“Mbale district is very difficult and not easy to manage in terms of security but as a team that trusts in God so much we have contained situations that threaten the security of the citizens,” Mugabi said.
Fr. Zackary Oburu associate priest at St. Austin Catholic church in Mbale who led the mass appealed to the forces to always turn to God for guidance during the execution of their duties.
He also on behalf of other Christians who attended the prayers thanked the leadership of the Uganda security forces for initiating the policy of having their officers seek God’s mercy.
“You may have guns but without God’s guidance and mercy, the guns may not bring peace and unity. We thank you for maintaining security in the country,” Oburu said.