Policeman hit, killed by rock at Uganda march

AP News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2012 11:40 AM
Policeman hit, killed by rock at Uganda march

A rock thrown by a protester hit and killed a Ugandan policeman during violent clashes Wednesday between police and the supporters of opposition politicians demonstrating against police brutality.

The 48-year-old policeman died on his way to the hospital, the police said.

"A policeman who has done nothing, to pick a rock and kill him," said police spokesman Asuman Mugenyi. "They have committed murder. They are responsible for the death of a policeman."

Mugenyi said a number of opposition politicians who led the demonstration had been taken into police custody for questioning, including Kizza Besigye, who is well-known for last year's "Walk to Work" marches. Supporters were also arrested, Mugenyi said.

The government said in a statement that "wanton violence against police officers on duty shall be sternly dealt with."

Opposition politicians say they are holding peaceful demonstrations this week against the police, whom they accuse of using excessive violence to break up marches. But the police, who often use tear gas to disperse crowds, say any demonstrations must be held outside the central business district because marches disrupt business.

The current round of clashes recalls confrontations last year in which the police battled Ugandans demonstrating against inflation and the high cost of living. Those demonstrations were halted after the police curtailed the movements of the opposition leaders who organized them, usually by preventing them from leaving their homes and by employing more force. Besigye was at the forefront of those marches.

Opposition leaders could not be reached for comment. Mugenyi said organizers of Wednesday's march had not sought official permission to hold it.