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Radio journalist attacked at gunpoint in front of his family

(HRNJ-Uganda/IFEX) - Kampala, 24 January 2012 - Gideon Tugume, a journalist working for Capital FM radio in Kampala, was attacked by gunmen on the night of 20 January, at the Kenjoy Supermarket in the Bukoto suburb of Kampala. Barely three minutes after Tugume had parked his car at the supermarket, another vehicle arrived at breakneck speed, hitting his car from the driver's side and damaging the rear part of the car.

"I was too shocked. When I came out to see what was happening, four men dressed in civilian attire emerged from a Honda CRV ( . . . ) Three of them were holding a pistol and the other an AK47 rifle. I ran back into my car and locked the door. It is then that they started hitting my car with their gun butts and kicking it with their boots. My two daughters started crying. My wife jumped out, and then they pounced on her, hitting her very hard against the car. She screamed and attracted the attention of the security guards at Kenjoy, who ran to her rescue," Tugume told HRNJ-Uganda.

He added that the gun-wielding men introduced themselves as Gen. David Tinyefunza's bodyguards. Tinyefunza is the national coordinator of security agencies in Uganda.

"It is at this point that I reversed and sped off with my family to the Kiira Road police station at around 11:15 p.m., where I filed a complaint about the incident."

When contacted by HRNJ-Uganda, Gen. Tinyefunza denied any knowledge of the group, who he referred to as "thugs".

"Those are thugs, how can they be my escorts? They are the group that tortures our people. I will hunt for them and have them prosecuted and I will help in all the court battles. Anyone who claims to be my escort should be arrested. It is not the first time people are using my name to wreak havoc in the city. I cannot let this thuggery go on. I am sorry about what happened to Tugume," Tinyefunza told HRNJ-Uganda.

Tugume was in the news earlier last year when he was shot by security guards on his right leg on 12 May, during the walk-to-work demonstrations. He still struggles with knee problems and doctors have recommended that he get an operation.

"HRNJ-Uganda could not establish the motive of the attackers but cannot rule out foul play, since Tugume has reported been trailed by unknown individuals for unclear reasons," said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.

The organisation condemns this cruel act and all attacks on journalists and urges police to thoroughly investigate the case and prosecute the perpetrators without delay.

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