, Uganda, Jan 30 – A Ugandan Muslim sheikh and 17 others have been charged with killing two fellow clerics, a case police said Friday is linked to Islamist rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo.
“There’s a link definitely to the Allied Democratic Forces,” police spokesman Fred Enanga told AFP, referring to the small group of Ugandan-led ADF rebels, who have terrorised pockets of eastern DR Congo for the last two decades.
He claimed those charged in court in the capital Kampala on Thursday had wanted “to eliminate their colleagues” because they had tried to discourage people from “joining rebel ranks.”
Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, the leader of Uganda’s Muslim Tabliq group, and 17 others were charged Thursday for the murders of two clerics, and the attempted murder of a third earlier this month, according to the government-run New Vision newspaper.
All deny the charges.
Supporters packed a courtroom, some of them chanting “God is Greatest” before the proceedings started, the report added.
Sheikh Abdul Qadir Muwaya, top leader of Uganda’s Shia Muslim community, and his comrade Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga, were shot dead by men on motorbikes in two separate attacks just days apart in December.
Gunmen tried to kill a third cleric, Sheikh Haruna Jemba, earlier this month.
All suspects have been remanded in custody, with the next hearing set for February 12.