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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-313484 Uganda Violence UPD (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=2/25/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=UGANDA / VIOLENCE (L-UPDATE)

NUMBER=2-313484

BYLINE=CATHY MAJTENYI

DATELINE=NAIROBI

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

/// UPDATES INTRO OF CR 2-313477. NOT REVOICED ///

INTRO: A peace march in the northern Ugandan town of Lira turned violent and government officials say police fired into the crowd, wounding several people. News reports say mobs attacked rival tribesmen and quote witnesses as saying as many as eight people may have been killed. Cathy Majtenyi reports from V-O-A's East African Bureau in Nairobi.

TEXT: The peace march, meant to mourn -- and protest -- the deaths of more than 200 people massacred by rebels at Barlonyo camp, turned violent, and the angry mob beat at least one person to death.

A Roman Catholic Missionary stationed in the northern Ugandan town of Lira, Father Sebat Ayala, was one of the event's organizers. He says the aim was to pray for the dead, and urge the Ugandan government and international community to intervene in the north's 17-year civil war.

/// AYALA ACT ///

We warned the people not to come with wrong intentions. Out of 100-thousand (protesters), there is always some wrong elements, and we have condemned very strongly those who killed that person.

/// END ACT ///

Father Ayala says people were very angry with the Ugandan government and international community for not preventing the attacks on the camp by rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army.

/// OPT /// He says he saw banners and heard slogans saying, "Kofi Annan, what are you doing?", "United Nations, intervene immediately!" and "We want peace, stop killing innocent people". /// END OPT ///

Father Ayala describes what happened next.

/// 2ND AYALA ACT ///

There was some confusion. There was a lot of tension, a lot of anger, and, unfortunately, one was killed by the mob - I saw with my own eyes. Then, it was becoming too much, so the soldiers came in. They started shooting, and then we had to call off the march. They shoot for almost one hour sporadically, but only two were slightly wounded.

/// END ACT ///

Ugandan army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza blames the organizers for fomenting the violence.

/// BANTARIZA ACT ///

You cannot organize what you call a peaceful demonstration at this time when people are still emotionally touched by the death of their people. That is wrong. It was wrong timing.

/// END ACT ///

Major Bantariza says the crowd became very rowdy, stoning cars, and attacking army and government offices. He says the situation appears to be under control.

/// OPT ACT /// 2ND BANTARIZA ACT ///

The police are still handling it. If they get overwhelmed and they seek our assistance, definitely we shall render it. But as of now, the army has not yet intervened at all.

/// END ACT /// END OPT ///

Observers say the three-hour attack on Barlonyo camp last Saturday calls into question Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's claim that the army has defeated the rebels.

President Museveni has visited the area, and criticized the army for what he called its poor coordination.

The United Nations has sent a team to the region to assess the humanitarian needs of the people following the massacre, and the World Food Program said it would try to distribute food to five-thousand people for two weeks, if the security situation permits. (SIGNED)

NEB/CM/MAR/RAE/TW



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