Uganda: Three dead, six injured in grenade explosion on election eve
Three children including a 12 year old boy have been confirmed dead and six others seriously injured following an explosion of a suspected residue of a grenade buried in the ground in the Uganda capital Kampala, according to the Uganda Police.
The incident occurred a few hours before the country goes to polls in the highly contested Presidential elections on 18th, February, 2016.
A statement issued by the Uganda Police revealed 12 year-old Sam Lukemba, was killed instantly as the children were playing at a parking ground in Mengo, opposite the Lubiri Palace, in Kampala.
The location of the incident is next to Kyaggwe Road Primary School, and opposite the former military barracks at Lubiri. Two other children succumbed to injuries at Mulago Referral Hospital where they were admitted following the incident.
The Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga said that the injured children, whose particulars are yet to be established, have been admitted at Mulago Referral Hospital and Mengo Hospital. The bodies of the deceased have been taken to Mulago Referral Hospital Mortuary for further examination. A team of bomb experts has been deployed at the scene of the blast to investigate the incident.
“We want to caution members of the public – especially children – against playing or tampering with objects they are not sure of. In cases where unidentified objects are involved, please inform the police immediately for further assistance,” a police statement said
Enanga told this website that there were no signs of foul play despite conflicting reports by eye witnesses that the devise was hurled at the children by unidentified person as they were playing.
The explosion occurred just a few hours after the Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura assured the country of safety as Ugandans cast their vote to choose their next President and Members of Parliament.
Meanwhile, in an effort to ensure rapid response to any emergency during the elections, Uganda’s ministry of Health has deployed a fleet of nine ambulances in the capital Kampala.
“A crew of professional ambulance officers and drivers will man the vehicles and offer emergency care in the respective locations. These ambulances have been deployed to ease safety and referral of persons who could need emergency care of any kind.
Upcountry hospitals have also been instructed to avail their ambulances in their respective regions,” A statement released by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health Dr Asuman Lukwago said.
Today’s deadly incident comes three days after two people were shot dead in the Ugandan capital in clashes between the police, and leading opposition candidate Kizza Besigye and his supporters as the Forum for Democratic Change presidential hopeful campaigned in the city.
The US has since condemned the incident and warned against incendiary statement that might trigger violence.
“The United States condemns [Monday’s] elections-related violence in Uganda which claimed the life of at least one person, and we offer our condolences to the friends and families of that individual. We hope that such senseless death will not be part – or repeated rather – as Ugandans head to the polls on Thursday,” Mark Toner, US State Department said in a statement Tuesday.
The US also deplored the Monday’s arrest, and teargassing of presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and harassment of his supporters by the police.
“We are deeply concerned that the police detained opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and tear-gassed some of his supporters. Such restrictions on public assembly, especially when applied disproportionately to one side contesting the elections, escalates tensions in an already heated electoral environment. So we urge all – we urge government authorities as well as all political parties and their supporters to refrain from further acts or rhetoric that may lead to more unrest or claim any more lives.” Mr Toner added.
In just a few hours, Ugandans are heading to the polls to choose the country’s next president, and legislators. President Museveni, who has been in power for 30 years is the favourite to emerge victorious in Thursday’s highly contested election. Both his main rivals, Besigye, and Amama Mbabazi have threatened not to accept “the results of a rigged election.”