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Pandemonium during market eviction in Lira

By Bonney Odongo, Hudson Apunyo

Added 7th July 2016 04:59 PM

Several pupils of the nearby St. Mary’s Primary School suffered from the effects of teargas.

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A school nurse and other residents carrying a pupil who collapsed after a teargas explosion to the clinic. (Credit: Bonney Odongo)

Several pupils of the nearby St. Mary’s Primary School suffered from the effects of teargas.

LIRA - Attempt by Field Force police and Lira Municipal Council Law Enforcement Officers to forcefully evict market vendors from Juba market in Lira town Thursday morning ended in disaster.

The vendors have since refused to occupy their stalls in the newly constructed Lira main market prompting the municipal authority to use police to evict them.

Several pupils of St. Mary’s Primary School which neighbors the market suffered from the effects teargas as police tried to contain rioting vendors who were resisting forceful eviction.

Caught unaware by the teargas explosion, there was a stampede at St. Mary’s Primary school as pupils and teachers ran in different direction for their dear lives.

At least 72 pupils sustained injuries and were being treated at the school health facilities, while eight pupils who collapsed and went unconscious after inhaling teargas were admitted at Star Medical Clinic in Lira town.

Mike Ogwal Achonga, the proprietor of St. Mary's primary School, broke down in tears after seeing the condition of his affected pupils. (Credit: Bonney Odongo)

The school Director, Mike Ogwal Achonga said the pupils were attending lessons in their classes when two teargas canisters landed in the compound then exploded sending a huge smoke covered the entire school.

Ogwal identified the pupils in critical condition as Viola Angwech,  Juliana  Aloyo, Jacqueline Alum, Crisca Nyangoma, Ayerwot Stella, Katusime Salume and Aciro Monica. One of the pupils in this category could not be identified as she was being attended to by doctors in a private room because of her condition.

“Most of the pupils and teachers who were injured knocked themselves on the wall, trees and fence because their sights were impaired by teargas,” Ogwal said.

He said lower class pupils especially those in primary one got stuck on the school fence as they tried to flee and were removed by teachers and well-wishers.

Grace Lamunu the mother of an injured primary five pupil identified as Criska Nyangoma, condemned police action saying it was not called for to teargas innocent pupils in school.

Grace Ato, the school matron, attending to some of the pupils admitted at the clinic after the fracas. (Credit: Bonney Odongo)

“The police should have not teargased the school pupils because most of these children admitted here have asthma and the Municipal who deployed them should pay back the cost we are meeting here if but if they failed, we will seek legal actions against them,” she said.

In addition to pupils, three people were also injured and admitted to hospital, one of them (boda boda cyclist) in critical condition after a stray bullet ripped through his waist.

The Regional Police Commander John Emetu said two people were admitted at Lira Regional Referral Hospital with injuries, one of them shot while another suffered head injuries when canister exploded near her. Another woman Dorcus Akello, 33, suffered shock and is admitted at Gift Life Clinic.

Ematu said Scovia Adero and Morris Awal the boda boda who sustained bullet wound in the waist was still in the theatre at Lira regional Referral Hospital.

The hospital Senior Administrator Edward Mwanze declined to comment on the cyclist’s condition; saying doctors were still working on him in the theatre.

The town clerk Assy Abirebe Tumwesigire could not be got for comments by press time as he was reported out for lunch.

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