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Uganda riots toll hits 27

KAMPALA, Sept 30 – The number of Ugandans killed during riots sparked by a row between the regime and a traditional tribal ruler earlier this month has risen to 27, the government announced on Wednesday.

"The confirmed number of people who have so far died as a result of the riots is 27," Internal Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Kirunda Kivejinja told AFP.

The official death toll for the two-day riots that broke out on September 10 previously stood at 15.

The minister said 20 of the dead were believed to be rioters and the remaining seven civilians caught up in the unrest, among them a two-year-old baby.

The Ugandan government was criticised by rights groups for responding to protests by supporters of the traditional Baganda king — Ronald Muwenda Mutebi — with excessive use of force.

Kivejinja confirmed that 846 people had so far been arrested in connection with the violence, which briefly turned the streets of Kampala into a battlefield before security forces were deployed en masse.

He said that 745 of them had already appeared in court.

"The majority of those taken to court so far have been charged with inciting violence, participating in unlawful assembly, causing destruction during riots and terrorism," Kivejinja said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the east African country since his 1986 coup, has vowed stern action against the suspected rioters.

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The riots came as the country’s various political players are increasingly jostling for position ahead of 2011 elections during which experts say Museveni could face a stiffer than usual challenge from the opposition.

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