14 killed as unrest breaks out in western Uganda

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Kampala—At least 14 people including two police officers have been killed in a restive area of western Uganda as security forces battled local militia linked to a traditional king, police said Saturday.
“Since Thursday, 14 people including two police officers were killed when the militia attacked a police post, and during the fighting eight militiamen linked to the King of Rwenzururu were killed today (Saturday),” regional police spokesperson Lydia Tumushabe told AFP Saturday.
“Four police officers and one soldier were injured when the security moved in to disarm the militia,” she added. She said four militants were killed on Thursday when they attacked a police post.
Uganda’s deputy government spokesman Shaban Bantariza said the militia were fighting to form their own republic and “harbour intentions to break away from Uganda”.
“These militiamen have set up camps in the Rwenzori mountains from where they train and come to attack government installations “ Bantariza said. “These militia men were former and current guards of the Rwenzururu Kingdom.”
The town of Kasese, home to the king, was under lockdown Saturday evening. The conflict in the area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo has a long history. The Rwenzururu Kingdom started out as a separatist movement of the same name when the mainly Bakonzo community declared its own kingdom in 1962—seeking to break free from the yoke of the dominant Toro Kingdom in the region. The move led to years of bloodshed until a settlement was reached in 1982 in which the movement laid down arms in return for a degree of local autonomy. President Yoweri Museveni officially recognised the kingdom in 2009. However unrest has continued to simmer in the complex ethnic and political conflict.
King Charles Wesley Mumbere—who has had a tense relationship with Museveni—has denied connections to the militia. Between February and March this year, over 50 people were killed in clashes between the security and rebels, according to police figures.—AFP