At around 6:45pm on Friday evening, Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga was in company of his brother Said Kongo, 48.
Driving his widely known yellow Beetle Vintage car registration number UBB 107D, Abiriga was a few metres away from his residence in Kirinnyabigo, Kawanda, Wakiso District.
Neighbours told ChimpReports that Abiriga would make stopovers in the township to greet locals and buy sweets or bananas for kids before heading home.
But it appears Abiriga was trailed by assassins whom high level intelligence officials say could be members of an extremist group seeking to perpetrate a reign of terror in the country.
“Abiriga and his colleague were chatting. The situation was normal until we heard a hailstorm of bullets,” said a neighbor whose identity we are protecting for security reasons.
In a space of seconds, the bullets had ripped apart Abiriga’s car and shattered the occupants’ bodies.
By the time Good Samaritans rushed to the blood-spattered scene, the occupants had passed on.
Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima says a “couple of cartridges for an SMG assault rifle popularly known as AK 47 have been recovered at the scene.”
The gruesome incident comes against the backdrop of assassinations of top state functionaries, sending shockwaves across the country.
Just like in the shooting of prosecutor Joan Kagezi, AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi and Muslim clerics, the killers fled the scene using a motorcycle.
The temerity displayed by the killers underscores the extremists’ determination to eliminate supporters of president Museveni and powerful state officials.
More importantly, the shooting came just a day after president Museveni addressed the nation during which he accused the rebel Allied Democratic Forces of urban terrorism and killing of Kagezi and Kaweesi.
“The ADF criminals in Congo will answer for the killings of our people even when they are hiding in Congo. Their only safety is for them to voluntarily surrender and seek for amnesty,” threatened Museveni.
By killing Abiriga less than 36 hours after the State-of-the-nation address, the extremists could have intended to send a message to Museveni that they are ready for the fight.
They could have as well intended to cast fear in the ruling party especially among Museveni’s strongest supporters ahead of the much-anticipated referendum.
The incident might be interpreted as an attempt to show Museveni that those who supported the removal of the presidential age limit clause from the constitution would be killed with brutality.
Security experts believe the killing of Abiriga, the most visible NRM ideologue in the country, is confirmation that Uganda is under unconventional attack using hybrid warfare.
Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs political warfare and blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyber warfare with other influencing methods, such as fake news, diplomacy and foreign electoral intervention.
“Some security forces (especially police) are infiltrated and working against their government, influential Ugandans are used to fight their own country by making negative comparisons with regional countries,” said an expert.
“Only a keen eye will understand that Uganda is under a sustained hybrid attack. The NRM government is totally unprepared for hybrid warfare because the doctrine of NRM/ Museveni is against treachery, backstabbing and evil scheming.”
The shooting of clerics and state officials also exposes the weaknesses of internal security and intelligence organs which are tasked with averting such incidents.
An official argued that the way out is a “robust intelligence upgrade by proper staffing, bigger budget and proper tools and technology. Hybrid warfare will not be won by conventional means. And the hybrid war must be taken back to its source.”
According to Kayima, Abiriga was “assassinated by yet-to-be indentified criminals.”
He, however, said Police “together with sister agencies have their boots on ground and promise to hunt down these heartless criminals with the aim of bringing them to account for the crimes they have committed.”
He said bodies of the deceased were taken to Mulago National Referral Hospital for postmortem examination.
Kayima went ahead to say police “intervened immediately, cordoned off the scene of crime and are pursuing the killers.”
Technical officers have been at the crime scene since yesterday examining every details to help in investigations.
Kayima said police were yet to establish if Abiriga and his colleague had weapons.
He further appealed for “calm and vigilance as we continue to work together to catch the criminals and prosecute them in courts of law. We encourage continued vigilance, sharing of information with security and neighbourhoods to avert crime and enable quick response in case crime takes place.”
President Museveni described as “idiots” the killers of the lawmaker and vowed to pursue them at all costs.
While the murder shook the Kawanda town, most of the shops remained open with folks taking beers as the discussed the incident, underscoring a people’s resilience in the face of terror.
Museveni described the retired Colonel as a “dedicated supporter and a patriotic Ugandan who worked for peace in West Nile.”
The president also emphasized that vigilance can lead to the capture of criminals.
“Vigilance will lead to the capture of these criminals as it happened in Masaka,” said Museveni.
He said the gunmen who killed Abiriga were moving on a numberless motorcycle and their heads were covered with helmets even when they were standing in one place.