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Rights Body Calls For Probe In Uganda Riot Deaths

A human rights group has urged Uganda to set up an independent inquiry into the deaths of more than 20 protesters last month because security agents may have deliberately killed some of them.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Human Rights Watch said its investigation found that security agents killed at least 13 people who posed no apparent threat and were killed without justification

"Shooting in self-defense is one thing, but we found that some soldiers shot at bystanders and shot through locked doors," said Georgette Gagnon, Human Rights Watch's Africa director. "The government needs to put an impartial investigation in motion now."

Presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi did not directly address the rights group's findings. But he said the group should also condemn the people who rioted and destroyed property during riots in mid-September.

Riots broke out in Uganda's capital when security agents clashed with members of Buganda, one of Uganda's four ancient kingdoms.

Internal Affairs Minister Kirunda Kivejinja told parliament this week that 27 people died in the riots. The bloodshed started after the government prevented a representative of Buganda King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II from traveling to a region near the capital on "security grounds." Many saw it as an insult to the king.

Mutebi met with President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday for the first time in four years. At the end of their meeting, the two leaders agreed to exchange written papers on what issues will discuss in future talks.

The Buganda advocate a federal system, which would strengthen the king's influence. This has been resisted by the central government, led by Museveni. The country's traditional rulers are restricted to a largely ceremonial role.

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