Days after the shocking news of a possible massacre in Kasese, Uganda, new reports reveal that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called the incarcerated King Charles Wesley Mumbere of the Rwenzururu Kingdom twice on the phone, pleading with him to disband his militia before the attack. According to the Monitor, the Ugandan military later stormed the king’s palace, where they engaged the king’s militia in a fierce gun fight, leaving more than 120 people, including 14 police officers, dead.
“We gave him an hour…it elapsed. So the president again called. Gave him two more hours. So we had no option. We had to storm the palace and get these terrorists, and that is what we did,” Brigadier Peter Elweluthe, lead commander of the operation, said.
According to the Ugandan government, the king’s guards were part of a militia group pushing for the creation of an independent republic spanning from Uganda to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
King Mumbere was arrested on November 27th in a raid and detained under maximum security at the Nalufenya Police Station outside Jinja Town.
Ugandan authorities charged Mumbere with killing a police officer eight months ago during tribal skirmishes that rocked the area following a disputed presidential election in February.
Speaking to journalists in Kampala on Monday, the country’s Interior Minister, Jeje Odongo, said that from the weapons recovered from the king’s palace, it was clear that Mumbere wanted to wage war against the government.
Amnesty International has condemned Sunday’s attack on Rwenzuru Kingdom in Kasese by government security forces, accusing them of carrying out extrajudicial killings against the king’s guards and members of the tribal militia.
Although Ugandan authorities appear to be covering up the deadly confrontation by clamping down on the media, some disturbing images of corpses and burning houses are doing their rounds on social media, depicting a horrific bloodbath.
“In a shocking display of heavy-handedness, many people appear to have been summarily shot dead and their bodies dumped”, Abdullahi Halakhe, an Amnesty International’s East African researcher, told Press TV.
Images shared by Uganda’s main opposition leader Kizza Besigye showed dozens of bodies piled up in front of the palace gates.
On the same day of the incident, Ugandan military officers arrested Kenyan-based Ugandan journalist Joy Doreen Birra and her husband for sharing images of the massacre.
She was on Monday charged with abetting terrorism and later released on bail.
Rwenzururu is a section of the Rwenzori Mountains in Western Uganda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Rwenzururu Kingdom is an armed movement that has been pushing for complete autonomy in the region.
The kingdom is made up of the Konjo and Amba ethnic groups, formerly known as the Kingdom of Toro. They have been fighting for sovereignty since colonial times and it was not until 1982 during presidency of Milton Obote that they managed to get a degree of local autonomy.
In 2008, President Museveni’s government endorsed the Kingdom of Rwenzururu as a cultural institution and named Mumbere as the king.