At Least 54 People Killed in Uganda Fierce Fighting

Ugandan soldiers serving in Somalia under the African Union mission in Somalia load their machine guns as they zero in their weapons at a range in one of their bases in Mogadishu on May 27, 2009. The UN Security Council on yesterday extended the mandate of AMISOM, the African Union mission struggling to contain the violence in Somalia, which has been wracked by fighting between warring factions for nearly two decades. Somali extremists launched their offensive against the transitional federal government of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on May 7, and have maintained their positions in Mogadishu in trenches along streets near the presidential palace. The anti-government Islamists consist mainly of fighters from the Shebab, a homegrown radical group whose leaders are suspected of links to Al-Qaeda, and the Hezb al-Islamiya, another armed organization loyal to hardline opposition leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys Aweys. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
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Fierce fighting between security forces and a separatist militia believed to be loyal to a tribal king in Uganda’s Rwenzori western region left at least 54 people dead, authorities said Sunday.

Police spokesman Felix Kaweesi said 13 police officers and 41 militants had died Saturday in clashes in the town of Kasese, when the militia attacked patrolling security forces. Four police officials and four soldiers were wounded, Kaweesi said.

The killings are an escalation of a long-running conflict between Ugandan security forces and rebels linked to a tribal king, Charles Wesley Mumbere, a critic of the country’s long-time president.

Gunfire rang out outside the king’s palace Sunday as Ugandan security forces tried to break into the premises and disarm his guards, after the rebels had killed four police officers.

Mumbere is king of Uganda’s Bakonzo people, and some of his supporters have been calling for secession from Uganda, according to authorities. He has denied any role in the attacks on police posts.

The western district of Uganda, where Mumbere is based, is a hotbed of opposition to President Yoweri Museveni, who lost there in the last presidential polls.

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