Business in Namutumba town was on Thursday paralyzed as police engaged in running battles with locals who wanted to lynch a suspected child kidnapper.
Chaos ensued after police intercepted a Premio, registration number UBB 627C on its way from Bugiri District to Ivukula in Namutumba District. They arrested the driver, only identified as Abasa, 43.
Police say the arrest followed a tip-off from concerned people who told authorities that three children had been kidnapped from Bugiri District by an unknown man travelling in the Premio.
Namutumba DPC, SP John Rutagira, said they intercepted the car and found three children.
However, on hearing the news, residents armed with stones and sticks stormed the police station asking for the suspect to be handed to them.
"As police we had to fire bullets in the air to disperse the locals because they had come with stones and sticks with the intention of harming police officers and lynching the suspect," Mr Rutagira said.
He said the suspect is being detained at Namutumba police station as police trace the children’s parents’ whereabouts.
"The man is claiming that the children are his but when we asked him for proof, he failed. I’m happy that locals are now vigilant about the kidnappings happening in the country. But I also condemn the act of locals wanting to lynch the suspect,” added the DPC.
He further said: "Within this week, we have received and arrested two kidnap suspects. We are also in search of a 12-year-old Tayona Lovisa, a primary four pupil at Bubutia Primary School who went missing three weeks ago.”
However, locals accuse police of not bringing the kidnaps to an end.
Mr Martin Waiswa, a resident of Bulange said that they have reported several kidnap cases but police seem not to care.
"As locals we have embarked on lynching the suspects because police is only good at protecting them," he said.