Thursday April 14 2011

Gulu in flames, under heavy gunfire as Mao is arrested

Residents of Gulu town protesting the arrest of district chairman Norbert Mao over the ‘walk-to-work’ demonstration have come under heavy gunfire and tear-gassing by both soldiers and police.

The police are reported to be rounding the town with Mao in their hold, unsure where to take him into safe custody as crowd pursues them to have him released.

Fuel stations and shops are hurriedly closed with owners, and or operators, fearing probable damage by infuriated dwellers.

Our Northern Uganda Bureau Chief, James Eriku, says soldiers summoned from the nearby UPDF 4th Division Headquarters are driving in armoured cars, shooting randomly.

Residents are fighting back by pelting the security operatives with stones, and are burning car tyres and any combustible material on the roads to halt the military’s advance.

Motorised traffic has been paralysed in the town and various parts are inaccessible.

The town is reported to be in a power blackout, and the shooting is “severe”, Mr Eriku says.

Many people are variously injured in the sporadic violence.