Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine said his bodyguard was killed and two journalists injured amid violent clashes between security forces and his supporters.
Wine, in tears, a popular singer and politician who has defied the country’s longtime leader, said his bodyguard had died from his injuries after he was allegedly run over by a military police truck. The victim, Francis Senteza, was attacked while helping transport a journalist injured in a previous clash between police and a group of Wine supporters, he said.
“I am sorry to announce the murder of my security team member Francis Senteza Kalibala, also known as Frank”, Wine wrote on Twitter. “He was deliberately run over by a military police truck, No. H4DF 2382, which blocked us in Busega on our way to Rubaga to get emergency medical attention.”
The Ugandan army spokeswoman wrote on Twitter late Sunday night that the bodyguard had not been hit by a military police vehicle.
“The UPDF (Uganda People’s Defense Force) would like to clarify that the late Senteza … was not hit by a military police vehicle as allegedly, but fell from a car at full speed … he tried to jump a (sic) but it fell off. “
Wine campaigned on Sunday in parts of central Uganda, where he has considerable support. As his convoy tried to move from one rally to the next, police fired tear gas at the crowd, wounding at least two journalists.
Ashraf Kasirye, a cameraman for a television crew that follows Wine, suffered a serious head injury.
“We hope against hope that he lives,” Wine said of Kasirye on Twitter.
Another journalist, Ali Mivule, from local broadcaster NTV, was injured after a tear gas canister hit his leg, according to his employer. His condition was said to be stable.
Police said in a statement that while trying to quell confrontations with Wine supporters, “journalists were sadly trapped during the violent group’s dispersal process.” Kasirye is in critical condition after apparently being hit by a tear gas canister, he said.
Ugandan army spokesman Brig. Flavia Byekwaso, disputed Wine’s version of events, saying the bodyguard fell while trying to jump into a speeding car.
The three casualties are the latest victims of election-related violence, as Ugandan security forces are accused of trying to stop Wine from holding raucous public demonstrations.
Uganda faces increasing pressure from the international community and human rights watchdogs to respect human rights ahead of the elections scheduled for January 14. The arrest and detention last week of a prominent human rights lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo, on criminal charges has added to what some critics see as a crackdown on civic leaders, activists, journalists and suspected political opponents.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, faces a strong challenge from Wine, attracting young people who want to see a change in government. The Museveni government is frequently criticized for corruption and widespread unemployment in urban centers. Wine has repeatedly urged Museveni to stand down, saying it would ensure his safety.
The events of the Wine campaign have been increasingly affected by violent clashes with the authorities and Wine himself has been arrested many times by the police who accuse him of trying to disturb public order.
With Associated Press and Reuters
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