Uganda police battle protesters, several hurt

Uganda police battled stone-throwing anti-government protesters, leaving several wounded including main opposition leader Kizza Besigye, aides and officials said.

Last Updated: Apr 14, 2011, 23:14 PM IST

Kampala: Uganda police battled
stone-throwing anti-government protesters on Friday, leaving
several wounded including main opposition leader Kizza
Besigye, aides and officials said.

Police fired into the air and released tear gas to stop
Besigye and others from holding a banned march in the capital
to protest rising costs of living and opposition allegations
of bad governance by President Yoweri Museveni.

Security forces also used tear gas to disperse hundreds
of protesting opposition supporters in the provincial towns of
Jinja and Masaka, police commanders said.

Around 30 people were wounded in the scuffles in the
Kampala march while three parliamentarians and the capitals
mayor-elect who tried to take part were detained and charged
with disobeying government orders, officials said.

An aide to Besigye told the opposition leader, who
lost to Museveni in a February presidential election, was
struck by a rubber bullet fired by police but this was not
confirmed by authorities.

"He was shot in the finger by a rubber bullet. We have
taken him to hospital to establish the extent of his injury,"
Patrick Wakidi said.

Police did not say he was shot. "He fell down and his
right hand, it appears, got twisted but it is not serious,"
police deputy spokesman Vincent Ssekate said.

Uganda Red Cross secretary general Michael Richard Nataka
told AFP Besigye was one of 30 people taken to hospital after
clashing with police. "It was a hand injury," he said.

Besigye was met by anti-riot police when he left his home
in Kasangati suburb early today to start a walk-to-work
protest, his second attempt this week after he was arrested
Monday and charged with "inciting violence" for a first
attempt.

"We stopped him from walking to work because we received
information that he had asked people to join him on the way to
create chaos in town," Ssekate said.

"There are laws governing processions, and Besigye should
follow these guidelines. Short of that we cannot allow him to
proceed," he said.

Police arrested three politicians in Kajjansi suburb,
some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Besigye`s home, also for
taking part in the march.

The two members of parliament and the Kampala mayor-elect
were charged with disobeying orders and released later on
bail. A third MP was arrested in Mukono neighbourhood in the
outskirts of Kampala.

Locals tried to prevent the arrests and at least one
woman was hurt, sustaining serious injuries to the neck, a
news agency reporter said.

PTI