UGANDAN police said three local journalists were hospitalised on Sunday after sustaining injuries when officers used teargas to disperse supporters of presidential candidate and pop star Bobi Wine.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has emerged as the strongest challenger against President Yoweri Museveni, 76, in the country’s presidential election due on January 14. He said one of those injured was in a “critical condition”.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga said supporters of Wine had gathered on Sunday in Masaka, 125 km southwest of the capital Kampala. Wine had attended a church service in the town, according to a tweet on his official account.
Masaka is one of 11 areas where campaigning has been suspended due to coronavirus risks – although government critics say the real reason is the opposition’s popularity in these areas.
Enanga said the supporters were “a violent group” but gave no further details on what they were doing.
“Teargas was used to quell the violence. The journalists were regrettably caught up during the process of dispersing the violent group,” he said.
He said one of the journalists, from local television station Ghetto TV, sustained a serious injury above his left eye “allegedly from a (teargas) canister”.
Ashraf Kasirye was hospitalised at Masaka Referral Hospital then transferred to Kampala, he said.
“He is in a critical condition,” Wine later wrote on Twitter of Kasirye’s injury. “We are hoping against hope that he will live.”
All three journalists who were injured were wearing bulletproof vests and helmets marked “PRESS”, local reporter Culton Scovia Nakamya of BBS TV told Reuters.