Prominent Ugandan policeman assassinated in gun attack

KAMPALA (AFP) – An outspoken and critical Ugandan policeman was assassinated, a police spokesman said on Sunday, in the latest in a series of murders of senior officers and politicians.

Muhammad Kirumira was gunned down at the gate of his home along with a female companion in the Kampala suburb of Bulenga on Saturday night, said police spokesman Emillian Kayima.

“The Uganda Police Force is greatly concerned with the assassination of Assistant Superintendent of Police Muhammad Kirumira at Bulenga last night,” the spokesman said.

“He was with a lady whom we have been informed is not his wife but someone he knew and she too succumbed to bullet wounds in the hospital where she was rushed for treatment,” said Kayima.

He said the attackers were reportedly travelling on a motorcycle, a tactic used in the killings of Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Kaweesi in March, as well as a senior public prosecutor in 2015 and others.

Former Ugandan District Police Commander Muhammad Kirumira walks past while on duty in Kampala on April 19. – AFP

Kirumira had repeatedly told the media and other police officers that he was a target of assassination.

He was suspended from his role as District Commander in January after accusing his colleagues in a Facebook post of corruption and working with criminal gangs.

Shortly after he was arrested when heavily armed police forced their way into his house as he holed up resisting detention in an operation that took over five hours.

Kirumira was awaiting trial on charges of criminal misconduct and abuse of authority at the time of his death.

In March, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni fired the Chief of Police as well as the country’s Security Minister in what was seen as a reaction to growing insecurity in the country.

In June this year, ruling party lawmaker Ibrahim Abiriga was gunned down, alongside his brother, also by attackers on motorcycles.

No one has been brought to book for any of the killings.

In June, Museveni ordered that members of Parliament (MPs) should receive armoured escorts and snipers to protect them, a decision that divided lawmakers and raised concerns about the cost of such an operation.

The President visited the scene of the murder on Sunday, and said the police force was busy installing cameras around Kampala and other major towns in a bid to crackdown on insecurity.

“We are to stop these culprits by not just relying on old police methods,” Museveni said in a statement.

He said the government was going to re-activate the so-called Luweero methods to deal with criminals, referring to a local community led administrative system used when he was a rebel leader in the eighties.

Ugandan popstar turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi – better known as Bobi Wine – reacted to the news of Kirumira’s killing from the United States, where he is seeking treatment after allegedly being tortured by Ugandan police after his own arrest.

“Very sadly, that is the country we are living in. No one is safe. Our country is bleeding. This is very painful,” he wrote on Facebook.