President Godfrey Binaisa dismissed his Army chief of staff today, and soldiers said to be acting without government orders temporarily detained the head of the civilian security forces.
Employes of Nile Mansion, the central Kampala luxury hotel that serves as home and office for many members of the government, said they heard several minutes of shooting during the morning, and witnesses said at least one person was killed when soldiers took Internal Affairs Minister Barnabas Kununka from the hotel to an undisclosed destination. He was returned later in the day, but refused to talk with reporters.
Hotel workers identified the person killed as a 16-year-old daughter of a Cabinet minister, shot when she pleaded with soldiers not to detain Kununka. Other unconfirmed reports said a man also was killed.
While Binaisa dismissed Brig. Gen. David Ovite Djok, the military committee of the interim parliament said later it did not recognize the president's order.
Radio Uganda said Binaisa relieved the general of his post and appointed him ambassador to Algeria to improve Army discipline and civilian military relations, but the military committee of the parliamentary National Consultative Council later announced that it did not recognize the decision because the president did not follow "the procedure regarding the appointment, promotion and removal of senior Army officers."
Gen. Ojok is a close supporter of Milton Obote, who was deposed as head of state in 1971 by dictator Idi Amin. Amin in turn was driven out 13 months ago and Obote announced only three days ago that he would return to Uganda from exile in Tanzania to contest December parliamentary and presidential elections.
Diplomatic sources said Ojok's transfer appeared to be a political challenge to Obote and his Ugandan People's Congress Party, which Binaisa is attempting to bar from the elections.
About 20 soldiers set up guard posts and began checking visitors at this Nile Mansion entrance before a spokesman at Binaisa's Entebbe residence said the soldiers detained Kununka without government approval.
Kampala was calm, with traffic and pedestrians on the streets in near-normal numbers. Entebbe, the Lake Victoria town 21 miles away where Binaisa stays -- and where July 4, 1976, and Israeli rescue of hijacked El Al passengers occurred -- was also reported quiet.
Kununka and Ojok appeared to be on opposite sides of the political fueding that has divided and weakened Uganda's civilian interim government.