Uganda death toll rises to 14

September 13, 2009 12:00 am

, KAMPALA, Sep 13 – Police have arrested more than 550 people in connection with two days of riots in Uganda’s capital Kampala, as the death toll rose to 14, the police said Sunday.

Security forces have kept a high profile on the streets of Kampala as the traditional Buganda kingdom at the centre of the unrest on Thursday and Friday sought to calm the situation.

"The information we have is that 14 people died during the demonstrations and over 80 people were injured, including a dozen police officers," police spokeswoman Judith Nabakoba told AFP by telephone.

The acting director at Kampala’s main hospital on Saturday put the death toll at 11.

More than 550 people have been arrested, mainly "those who were directly involved in the riots or the ringleaders," Nabakoba said, adding that they were being "screened" at various police stations.

"Most of the suspects are detained at the Central Police Station, Jinja Road, Wandegeya and Old Kampala police stations," she said, with relatives being given access to see them.

Court appearances will begin on Monday on charges of engaging in violent acts and involvement in illegal assemblies, among other offences, the police spokeswoman added.

The violence erupted Thursday and continued into Friday when police clashed with supporters of Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, the kabaka or traditional ruler of the Baganda tribe.

Stoking the unrest was an attempt by President Yoweri Museveni’s government to prevent Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, the kabaka or traditional ruler of the Baganda tribe, from attending a youth festival for fear of unrest.

The Baganda are in the majority in central Uganda, but the festival — which the Kingdom of Banganda cancelled in the wake of the violence — was in an area where a minority group, the Banyala, reject the kabaka’s rule.

In a statement on Saturday, the kingdom urged the Buganda people "to remain calm and law abiding".

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