OTTAWA (AFP) — Canada's Heritage Oil Corp on Tuesday said its ship was not at the center of a clash between Congolese troops and the Ugandan army on Lake Alberta, refuting earlier reports.
The company also challenged a UN official, who told AFP the oil exploration vessel was escorted out of "Congolese waters" to "avoid increasing tensions" between the two nations and "to ensure the crew's safety."
Earlier, a Ugandan army spokesman said two Congolese troops and a Ugandan soldier were killed in clashes Monday on the flashpoint border lake where oil was recently discovered.
He said the clashes erupted when a military ship from the Democratic Republic of Congo intervened as Ugandan soldiers were seeking the release of an oil exploration vessel impounded by troops from the UN mission in Congo.
"There was an exchange of fire. Two Congolese soldiers were killed and one of our own also died," Kicoco Tabaro, army spokesman for western Uganda, told AFP by phone.
In a statement, Heritage said its vessel was "within Ugandan waters in Lake Albert in the process of lifting cables to mark the completion of a seismic survey" when a UN patrol boat detained the ship and its crew.
"This was a routine check, not hostile, and there was full co-operation. After a short interview at shore, the vessel and crew were released and returned to base in Uganda," Heritage said.
The clash between border forces was a "separate, unrelated, isolated incident," it added. "No employees or sub-contractors of Heritage were involved."
Tension between the two Great Lakes nations has shot up since August 1 when Uganda accused DRC troops of killing a British engineer exploring for oil on the Ugandan side of Lake Albert.
Kampala also accused its neighbor of capturing four soldiers in a zone under Ugandan control.
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