Ugandan Officers Report Assassination Attempt, Mutiny
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Attackers tried to assassinate Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni after hundreds of his soldiers mutinied in April, Ugandan dissident military officers said.
At least 200 mutineers of the 19th Artillery Regiment and the 8th Infantry Battalion were killed in clashes with 3,000 loyal troops April 7-8 before rebel units surrendered, the sources said Wednesday. The two units are based near the Ugandan capital of Kampala.
About 700 mutineers were captured and detained by military police at Luzira prison in Kampala, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A presidential convoy was ambushed April 11 on the 22-mile highway from Kampala to the State House in Entebbe. Mutineers killed at least 16 military escorts when they fired on two of three military trucks, the sources said.
But Museveni was not traveling in his official bulletproof car. He had flown by helicopter from Kampala to the State House and evidently had sent the seven-vehicle convoy along the road without him, the sources said.
The attackers escaped.
Military headquarters in Kampala ordered local journalists not to report the mutiny, and several people were detained in the capital for discussing it publicly, the sources said.
The sources said they belong to a group of dissident officers who want Museveni to hold peace talks with several rebel armies, improve conditions for soldiers and expel 100 Libyan and 250 North Korean military instructors from the former British colony in East Africa.
They said the mutiny and ambush were aimed at toppling Museveni.
The military command in Kampala, contacted by telephone from Nairobi, would not confirm or deny the reports.
Telephones at State House alternately went unanswered or were busy.
No previous attempts to assassinate Museveni have been reported.
Museveni seized power Jan. 27, 1986, ending a five-year bush war against civilian President Milton Obote and the military junta that ousted Obote in July 1985.
The sources said the captives had not been ill-treated and would be sent to re-education camps at Entebbe, Kyankwanzi west of Kampala and Mobuku near the Zaire border. The government set up the camps to screen surrendering rebels before they are absorbed into the army or allowed to return to civilian life.
Soldiers loyal to Obote and other toppled Ugandan leaders, including military dictator Idi Amin, have mounted insurgencies since August 1986 and Museveni’s National Resistance Army has been battling several rebel groups.
On Saturday, Museveni signed a peace agreement with the commander of the largest rebel group, Lt. Col. John Angelo Okello of the northern-based Uganda People’s Democratic Army. But Eric Otema Allimadi, the rebels’ leader in exile in London, rejected the accord in advance.
Museveni envoys are trying to negotiate a similar agreement with a smaller rebel group fighting in the east, the Uganda People’s Army.