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Soldiers flog journalists covering Bobi Wine story

Journalism in Uganda has become a high risk profession. Increasingly, journalists covering unfolding real life events have become the ripest targets for security agents.

On Monday, Kampala was under a tense police and army siege as the ‘Free Bobi Wine’ protesters raged on the streets.

On the move to cover events downtown, soldiers turned their guns on us and mercilessly flogged many journalists including NTV’s Juma Kiria, Ronald Galiwango, and Reuters' James Akena. This sort of mistreatment had been suffered by other journalists in Arua where some MPs and others were brutally arrested last week.

Reuters journalist James Akena being beaten by soldiers 

For me it all started at noon when I reached Kampala Road where people had set car tyres ablaze. The army and police were forcing anybody they could lay their hands on to help put out the fire.

As I approached Kisekka market, army and police patrol trucks were rushing all over the streets. I saw four soldiers break into Mackay Plaza upon hearing people shout the Bobi Wine slogan: ‘People Power’. They fired about ten bullets inside the building.

After stealthily photographing about an hour of running battles between the security forces and civilians I left Kisekka area for Old Kampala and Kisenyi.

On my way, I encountered heavy troop deployment around Mini Price Bata. Here I took a few pictures of arrests and people putting their hands up as a sign of surrender.

This is when the soldiers saw me and called out. I walked towards them and then it happened; I recall being hit so hard across the forehead and being dragged to one of the patrol trucks.

I was beaten and forced under the pickup where I found other journalists. Two soldiers sat on us and started pinching us with a pair of pliers.

The author shows some of the injuries 

When the truck got full, we were driven towards Central Police Station but on the way whoever they could find filming or taking pictures was arrested. At CPS we were handed back our cameras and ordered to delete our pictures.

Many journalists have been targeted by security operatives in Uganda especially during protests making their work dangerous.

Not only have many fallen victims of their brutality ending up with bodily harm also equipment has been vandalised.

Photojournalist Samson Baranga is still nursing injuries sustained when he was attacked by plain clothed security operatives in July during the protest organised by Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine against social media tax. 

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© 2016 Observer Media Ltd