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Ugandan minister hurt, daughter killed, in assassination bid

Uganda‘s transport minister was shot Tuesday in what police said was a “targeted drive-by shooting” which left the former top general’s daughter and bodyguard dead.

Gunmen riding motorcycles followed General Edward Katumba Wamala, who once served as army chief, from his home in the capital for four kilometres (two-and-a-half miles) before they sprayed his vehicle with bullets, a police statement said.

The style of the attack echoed that of several others over the years which have left high-profile Ugandans dead, with the perpetrators never brought to justice.

“A joint security task team is actively investigating a targeted drive-by shooting,” which took place shortly before 9 am, deputy inspector general of police Paul Lokech said in the statement.

“This is the first major shooting since 2019 and we strongly believe it was a targeted and not random incident.”

He said four attackers rode on two motorcycles with concealed number plates.

They killed the general’s daughter Brenda Nantogo and bodyguard Haruna Kayondo, while another bodyguard survived. Wamala was wounded in an arm.

“The exact motivation towards the targeted shooting is not yet established. We consider such attacks as a form of organised crime, with a potential of extremism, aimed at undermining the prevailing stability,” Lokech said.

White-clad forensics police swarmed the scene of the shooting, where bullet holes riddled the rear and driver’s side of Wamala’s car — an official army vehicle easily identified by its distinctive military green number plates.

Wamala’s wife Catherine and a son also visited the scene.

In a video addressed to his children seen by AFP, Wamala spoke out about the attempt on his life.

“I’ve survived. We have lost Brenda. That’s God’s plan. I love you guys. Please pray for Mummy. Mummy’s in a terrible, terrible state, please pray for her,” he said, his voice shaking with emotion.

Series of assassinations

President Yoweri Museveni slammed the attackers as “pigs who do not value life” in a statement posted to Twitter.

“I talked to Gen. Katumba twice on the phone. He is being well-managed,” he said, adding: “We already have clues to those killers.”

Museveni said the bodyguard had fired a warning shot which had saved the general’s life, but should have “shot to kill”.

“We could be having a dead terrorist instead of scaring away the terrorists.”

Tuesday’s shooting was the latest in a series of attempted killings of high-profile targets by motorcycle-riding assassins in Uganda’s capital.

In June 2018 Ibrahim Abiriga, a leading politician from Museveni’s National Resistance Movement party, was gunned down alongside his bodyguard in similar circumstances.

In March 2017 witnesses described how Uganda police spokesman Andrew Kaweesi was killed in a hail of bullets, also by four masked assailants riding two motorcycles and near the site of the latest attack on Wamala.

And in March 2015, Joan Kagezi, a prosecutor in charge of investigating a jihadist attack in Kampala in 2010, was shot dead by men on motorbikes as she returned home.

No one has been convicted of any of those killings.

Museveni said a new system of “digital beacons” on all vehicles and motorcycles would stop them from being used in crimes.