KAMPALA – Armed men opened fire on a car with a Ugandan government minister on Tuesday in an attempted assassination and wounded the former army commander, killing his daughter and driver, the military and local media said.
Four attackers on motorcycles sprayed bullets on a four-wheel-drive vehicle with General Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Labor and Transport, in the suburb of Kisasi in Kampala, the local television station NBS reported.
President Yoweri Museveni condemned the attack and blamed it on criminals, terrorists and “pigs who do not value life.” In a Twitter report, he said that the authorities already have clues in the case, and that the responsible criminals will be defeated.
Images circulating on social media show Wamala with his mouth open, in apparent distress next to the car and his light-colored pants splashing with blood.
Police investigators later combed the area by punching bullet holes in the car’s windows and pickups and casings on the ground.
The private NTV Uganda television broadcast social media footage of Wamala in hospital. Referring to his daughter, who was in the car with him, he said: “I survived, we lost Brenda … The bad guys did it, but God gave me a second chance.”
Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso, army spokeswoman, told Reuters: “There was a shooting in which he was involved … he was injured and he was taken to hospital, his driver was killed.”
A government official said a local resident was also shot and wounded in the incident and was in hospital.
Wamala once served as head of Uganda’s police, which over the years have been accused of human rights violations by rights groups, including arbitrary arrests and torture of opposition activists. Police deny committing rights violations.
There have been several unsolved assassinations and mysterious deaths of high-ranking officials in the country in East Africa over the past few years that have fueled speculation about offenders and their motives.
Victims involved a lawmaker, a senior police officer, the country’s leading public prosecutor, senior Muslim leaders and others. Almost all were committed by armed men on motorcycles.
The attempted life of Wamala took place in the same suburb in the capital, where gunmen on motorcycles in 2017 fired bullets at a vehicle carrying a senior police officer. Police officer Felix Kaweesa was killed along with his bodyguard and driver.
In 2019, the government installed a CCTV camera system on highways in Kampala and other major towns to curb such high-profile murders and other major crimes.
But many Ugandans complain that the CCTV network did not help the police solve many murders involving opposition activists and even ordinary Ugandans.
Former opposition MP Latif Ssebagala told reporters he hoped the incident would encourage investigators to look at the unsolved murders anew.
“This is very unfortunate, because if you see that even those who are being guarded, even those who are militarily dressed, cannot be attacked, then it will declare that the whole country is missing in terms of security,” he said.
By Ayenat Mersie