By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA (Reuters) – Ugandan police said on Monday they had taken control of a tribal king’s palace after a weekend of deadly clashes with his supporters and seized a cache of machetes, spears and petrol bombs.
At least 46 members of king Charles Wesley Mumbere’s guards died fighting police and soldiers in western Uganda, a regional police spokesman said, raising an earlier estimate of the toll. Sixteen police officers also died, he added.
Police detained Mumbere on Sunday and accused his supporters of trying to create a new state in the area near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.
There has been no statement from the king, a supporter of opposition parties who have challenged President Yoweri Museveni’s victory in February elections. The surrounding Rwenzori region has seen regular unrest since the vote.
“So far we managed to kill 46 of the royal guards and we also arrested 139,” police spokesman Mansur Suwed told Reuters. He said the number of police killed had risen to 16 from 14 after two officers succumbed to their injuries.
Police also seized a rifle, a pistol, four walkie-talkies and knives from the fighters, and increased patrols in Kasese, the biggest town in the region, he said.
“The town is calm but we’re still patrolling and monitoring. We have burnt down all the camps they (the guards) had established and also we’ve taken over the royal palace,” Suwed said.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Andrew Heavens)