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Three motorcyclists arrested over violent assault of Ugandan journalist

Police in Kitebi, Rubaga division, Kampala district have arrested three suspects in connection with the assault of Vision Group journalist Ddamba Ismael, occasioning him grievous bodily harm. The particulars of the trio have not yet been released.

Ismael, a journalist with Vision Group's Bukedde Newspaper was attacked by a mob of angry commercial motorcyclists (boda boda) on 12 April 2014. The attack occurred while he covered the cyclists demanding the release of their colleague, who had been detained by the cyclists' leaders for allegedly failing to pay operational fees in Kabowa, Kampala. The angry cyclists intended to lynch the journalist, whom they accused of being a police spy, but police fired bullets in the air to rescue him

“It started by a man questioning why I was photographing them. They mobbed me up and started beating me. I got serious injuries on the head, arm and leg. I lost a fingernail on my thumb. I was rescued by the police who fired in the air. My still camera was all shattered. I was rushed to Mulago clinic in Kabowa for treatment. I was stitched on the head. In the process I lost my wallet,” Ismael told HRNJ-Uganda.

A journalist who witnessed this incident at the Kibade boda boda stage in Kabowa described it as very ugly, “It was a very ugly incident. His camera was completely destroyed. They were going to kill him if it hadn't been for the police [firing] in the air,” Vivian Nakitende told HRNJ-Uganda.

“We have arrested three people in connection to the incident and have charged them with assault. We want to take them to court. Ismael had come to cover news, that's why he was assaulted, occasioning him grievous bodily harm,” the officer in charge of Kabowa Police Station, Hamid Kabojja told HRNJ-Uganda.

Ismael is the fourth journalist to be mobbed while on duty in the space of two weeks. Abdul Kittata – a boda boda cyclist leader with the Boda Boda 2010 Association Uganda – warned cyclists against resorting to violence to settle their scores.

HRNJ-Uganda commends the area police for acting swiftly to save the life of the journalist and consequently arresting some of the suspects. The suspects should also be charged with malicious damage to property. We hope that the culprits who are still at large are apprehended and prosecuted. We urge the police to ensure the safety of journalists especially those covering chaotic scenes.

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