Thursday, September 10, 2009

Three killed in violent Kampala riots

Thursday, 10th September, 2009
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The Police block Buganda Katikkiro (premier) Engineer Walusimbi at Ssezibwa Bridge, a gateway to Kayunga district, where he was going to prepare for the Kabaka’s visit

The Police block Buganda Katikkiro (premier) Engineer Walusimbi at Ssezibwa Bridge, a gateway to Kayunga district, where he was going to prepare for the Kabaka’s visit

By Vision Reporters

THREE people were reported dead as violent riots linked to the Kabaka’s planned tour of Kayunga district spread to the city and across Buganda.

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By press time, 39 people had been injured in the riots, triggered off by false reports that Katikkiro Walusimbi had been arrested on his way to Kayunga. He was expected to prepare for the Kabaka’s visit which was slated for tomorrow.

The city suddenly flared up into chaos in the afternoon as Kabaka supporters engaged the Police in running battles. They pelted vehicles with stones, barricaded roads with logs and huge boulders, lit bonfires, looted property and torched buildings.

The chaos first erupted around Kiseka Market and spread quickly to Wandegeya, Bwaise, Kawempe and Maganjo-Kagoma on Bombo Road, stretching the Police to the limit. Military Police moved in with armoured vehicles to take charge of the situation.

Offices and shops closed down and motorists vacated the roads amid sporadic gunfire, teargas explosions, a heavy presence of regular and anti-riot Police backed by military Police.

In Bwaise, demonstrators set a huge store on fire before going on a looting spree. The Police fire brigade put out the fire. The rioters also set ablaze the Natete Police station, and the vehicles parked there. A Police woman in Natete was stripped naked and beaten up. Reports also said some shops in the city were looted.

In the city centre, Kabaka supporters barricaded Entebbe Road near Centenary Bank with logs and burned tyres. They turned all vehicles away, threatening motorists and stopping them from going to Market Street.

Commotion erupted in Kawempe when four policemen, attempted to stop a rowdy group from barricading the road. They were disarmed and their guns taken. Kawempe Police boss Joel Aguma confirmed the incident.

Outside Kampala, too, rioters resorted to violence and looting. In Kyengera, on the Masaka highway, youth seized a truck loaded with sodas. They grabbed the sodas before burning the truck.

In Nabbingo, also on Masaka highway, irate youth stopped buses and roughed up passengers.
In Mukono angry youth attacked a bus, smashing the windows and injuring passengers. The Police rescued them.

Two of the dead were reportedly killed by stray bullets near Shoprite on Ben Kiwanuka Road.

One was a Saracen private security guard and the other a Congolese businessman who was shopping. A bullet ripped through his stomach. A third man was shot in the eye in Bwaise and died on the spot. The bodies were taken to Mulago Hospital.

“The guard was standing in the door when I suddenly saw him fall down after a military truck fired live bullets in the air,” said a shaken Annet Namusisi, a telephone booth operator.
By evening, more than 30 people had been rushed to the casualty ward at Mulago Hospital with various injuries, ranging from gunshot wounds to broken limbs. Most of them were from Bwaise, Kalerwe and Kanyanya suburbs.

Four policemen were also rushed to Mulago Hospital with injuries. One of them, Alex Wabwire, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, had his leg shattered. He was reportedly shot by rioters who snatched a gun from a guard.

Eliphaz Sekabira, the hospital spokesperson, said 39 people were being treated. Three people were arrested and detained at the Central Police Station in connection with the riot, said Kampala metropolitan deputy Police spokesperson Henry Kalulu. However, many others were reportedly detained at Wandegeya Police Station.

It took the combined effort of the Police and the army to quell the riots in the city centre, which returned to relative calm at around 4:00pm. Thousands of commuters were stranded till late for lack of transport, forcing many to walk home. The few taxis on he road charged exorbitant fares.

By press time, major roads such as Masaka, Jinja, Gulu, Hoima and Entebbe roads, were still blocked by angry protesters with logs and bonfires.

Riots were also still going on in the suburbs of Kampala, such as Nateete, Bwaise and Busega, as well in the districts of Mityana, Mukono and Wakiso.

A motorist on Mityana Road said the road was blocked by protesters at Bira, causing a long queue on either side.

Stranded motorists and passengers, including foreigners, threatened by violent youth, were calling The New Vision journalists, pleading for help.

In Kampala, mambas with military policemen criss-crossed the city at night, while foot soldiers patrolled in single file.

Reported by Steven Candia,
Chris Kiwawulo, Charles Ariko
and Patrick Jaramogi

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