Five family members are nursing injuries at Mulago National Referral hospital they suffered in a tear gas explosion on Christmas eve.
Although earlier police reports had indicated that the victims were injured by a suspected grenade, residents say it was a teargas canister left by one of the victim’s partners, who is a police officer.
Kasim Lubowa, the chairperson industrial zone in Kagugube central division, Kampala, says that the canister exploded at around 10:00pm on Friday night.
He identifies the victims as Jennifer Birungi, Harriet Kabasinguzi, Poni Elizabeth, Nakandi Mitchell, and Vanessa Birungi, all members of the same family.
Lubowa says that only Harriet Kabasinguzi sustained a serious injury on the sides of the eye but the condition of others has improved.
He has called upon police officers to be more careful with tear gas canisters as they do with bullets and guns, saying they are also lethal.
Shafick Ssemuju, one of the residents in the neighborhood says that 10-year-old Vanesa picked the canister and started playing with it in the house before it exploded.
“One of the victim’s boyfriends in police, who used to sleepover in the past months, forgot that canister at this home. So, the child got it under the bed and started playing with it, eventually, it exploded and people sustained injuries, but others just collapsed due to the blast and are now doing well,” he said.
Although residents say it was a tear gas canister, police say they are investigating the incident with the view of identifying the origin of the explosion.
“Our task team has recovered pieces, which have been submitted to experts for analysis. We also want to appeal to members of the public to report any items that look suspicious to the relevant authorities for safe handling,” Luke Owoyesigyire, the Kampala Metropolitan Deputy Police spokesperson said in a statement.
In October this year, an abandoned grenade killed two children in Nakaseke district. The explosive was part of weapons that were used during the 1980s bush war that brought the NRM regime into power. URN