Workers are suffering from stress after earlier exhumations More than 50 bodies have been retrieved from a mass grave in Uganda, the latest such discovery linked to a Doomsday cult.
Police and firemen wearing protective clothing dug up at least 55 bodies from a garage attached to a house outside the capital, Kampala, that had been rented by one of the leaders of the cult, the former Catholic priest Dominic Kataribabo.
The cult, known as the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, is already being blamed for the deaths of 924 people.
A month ago, police used barefoot prisoners to excavate a number of mass graves at properties in the south-west of the country associated with cult leaders.
They include 150 bodies exhumed under the floor of Father Kataribabo's rural home and on the surrounding property.
Many were those of children and many had been strangled.
Post-traumatic stress Ugandan Interior Minister Edward Rugumayo has admitted that prisoners used to manhandle the bodies are suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Following gruesome photographs in the local press, the Ugandan police have let it be known that now they will not be allowing public access to murder sites.
International arrest warrants have been issued for Kataribabo and other cult leaders.
The investigation was started after about 500 people were incinerated at the cult's main church in what was originally thought to have been a mass suicide.
There has been speculation that the deaths came after predictions of the end of the world failed to come true.
Cult members, who were told to sell their possessions and give the proceeds to the movement, had been told that they would enter a new world "free of sorrow and misery".
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- Police and firemen wearing protective clothing dug up at least 13 bodies Thursday from a house outside the Ugandan capital once rented to a leader of a doomsday cult blamed for the deaths of 924 people, an eyewitness said.
The man, who asked that his name not be used, said he had climbed a tree outside the house on the outskirts of the Ugandan capital and saw 13 bodies, including those of two children, dressed in the cult's black and green robes being carried out of the house.
Police spokesman Eric Naigambi, who was not allowed inside the fenced-off compound because he did not have protective clothing, said police would issue a statement later.
The grisly discovery in Ggaba, five kilometers (three miles) south of Kampala, came a month after authorities had dug up 394 bodies from under the floorboards and in the yards of leaders of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments.
The deaths of what authorities said were 530 people in a March 17 fire in the cult's compound in Kanugu in southwestern Uganda were first believed to be a mass suicide. But after the other bodies were discovered, authorities began to speak of mass murder.
Earlier Thursday, Interior Minister Edward Rugumayo was grilled by legislators on the conditions under which 50 unprotected, barefoot prisoners had dug up the other bodies in several villages in southwestern Uganda.
He said because of the difficult conditions under which they worked, some of the prisoners were suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.
He said he had been misquoted earlier as saying the prisoners had gone mad.
After the discovery of the 394 bodies, many of which bore signs of stabbing and strangulation, further exhumations were stopped following complaints from opposition politicians and the public after the publication and broadcasting of images of the prisoners stripped to the waist handling the decomposing corpses.
Police later said efforts to exhume more bodies from other suspected graves hadbeen put off until proper equipemnt, including gloves, had been received.
Kampala - The Police have frozen two bank accounts belonging to leaders of the Kanungu doomsday cult, said to have murdered at least 1,000 followers recently. A senior Police officer said yesterday one account belonged to the Rev. Fr. Dominic Kataribaabo at the Centenary Rural Development Bank, Mbarara branch.
"The other (account) is registered under Ishayuriro rya Maria Primary School," he said.
Ishayuriro rya Maria was the headquarters of the cult, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, at Kanungu in Rukungiri district, where over 500 people died in a church fire on March 17.
Mbarara Centenary bank branch chief Athanasius Mwesigye said the Police took details of the accounts.
"The Police came with a court order and we gave them the details of the bank accounts," he said.
He would not say more, saying "it was against banking ethics."
But another bank official said Kataribaabo opened the account when he was still a priest in Mbarara Diocese. The account had long been dormant with only sh5,000, the minimum deposit.
He said the Ishayuriro rya Maria bank account had several signatories and was still being used days before the Kanungu inferno.
"It had about four signatories, one of them Credonia Mwerinde, because it was a school and was the one being used, but they withdrew most of the money days before March 17," the official said.
Rukungiri district authorities closed down the primary school, which had been started by the cult, after complaints that the children were abused.
Mr. Steven Okwalinga, the southwestern regional Police commander, said last month that the Police launched an investigation into the finances of the cult leaders after discovering that they had collected millions of shillings from their followers.
Followers of the cult were required to sell all their property and give the money to the cult before being admitted as members.
Kampala - People believed to be police officers have sprayed a chemical on the new suspected Kanungu cult mass grave at a house in Mawanga zone, Buziga parish, Makindye division.
Kampala Mayor, Sebaana Kizito visited the Bunga site, April 25, and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Edward Rugumayo was due to visit.
"I saw some people spray chemicals on the grave to kill off the stench," a maid calling herself Agnes at the house where the suspected grave is told The Monitor, April 25.
Curious people continued to flock to the wall-fenced house owned by Moses Ssengendo Kawesa, a Kampala City Council finance officer in Kawempe division.
A lone policeman stationed outside its black gate has kept them from the suspected mass grave.
Irene Namirembe, an immediate neighbour told The Monitor that fugitive Rev. Fr. Dominic Kataribaabo of the banned Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God rented the house for Shs 450,000 over three months.
Police have exhumed over 500 bodies from secret mass graves in other houses where Fr. Kataribabo lived.
Namirembe said the LCs once questioned Kataribaabo about the many people who used to visit and the many children who lived in the house under terrible conditions.
"They (children) were known not to put on any kind of footwear," said Namirembe.
"They had a uniform. Women used to put on green, while men put on black," Namirembe added.
Namirembe said that the group was led by two men and one woman, who used to come in special hire taxis. She also said that they were "simple and good" people and used to greet all people around.
Namirembe also said that she and other people used to buy eggs from the house and that Kataribaabo sold all the chicken before the March 17 inferno in Kanungu, Rukungiri district where up to 500 people perished.
She said the cult members vacated the house three days before the fire. The chicken were reared in a semi-permanent structure with a coffee husk covered floor next to the garage on top of the suspected grave.
Namirembe said that locals in the area failed to join the sect because the Shs 250,000 entry fee was too high.
Meanwhile, police have said they will not dig up the suspected grave until they get proper equipment.
"Our aim now is really to protect the living persons. We therefore cannot start work before we get proper equipment," the chief officer of the Uganda Fire Brigade, Joseph Mugisa told The Monitor, April 25.
He said he was not aware of any spraying.
"We could not have sprayed any disinfectant since we have not ascertained in the first place whether there are people buried there," he said.
Mugisa confirmed there is a mild smell in the compound but could not tell whether it was the stench of decomposing bodies.
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) - A month after officials dug up hundreds of victims of a Ugandan doomsday cult, workers on Thursday exhumed the bodies of 55 more people - mostly women and children - from a garage rented by a cult leader.
Gravediggers clad in yellow plastic protective gear removed the bodies of 22 women, 15 men, 10 girls and eight boys from three graves in a garage attached to a small brick house in Ggaba, a residential area just south of Kampala, police spokesman Assuman Mugenyi said.
He said the bodies bore no external signs of violence and the cause of death would be determined by pathologists. The remains were wrapped in black polyethylene bags and loaded onto a trailer to be taken to the municipal cemetery for burial.
The exhumations came a month after barefoot prisoners in shorts dug up 80 bodies and a skull from a cult compound in the village of Rushojwa in southwestern Uganda, the last of four properties tied to the cult where bodies were found.
Mugenyi said police had suspected for some time that there might be bodies at the Ggaba house rented by excommunicated Roman Catholic priest Dominic Kataribabo, a leader of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments - the cult now blamed for 979 deaths.
But criticism over the use in the villages of unprotected prisoners to unearth the bodies, coupled with international media coverage, prompted authorities to suspend the search until they had assembled the necessary equipment and logistics.
It was feared that the grisly discovery in Ggaba would not be the last.
``We have not got the logistics for the whole investigation,'' Mugenyi told The Associated Press. ``This was in the city, and people were concerned, and we were equally concerned, so we had to give it priority. We will wait until everything is ready, and then we will resume the work.''
Dozens of police and soldiers kept reporters and photographers well away from the property as the bodies were being dug up.
Mugenyi said the digging at the Ggaba compound was finished, and authorities did not expect to find more bodies there.
When several hundred people were reported to have perished in a fire at a cult compound in Kanungu on March 17, the deaths were first believed to have been a mass suicide. Authorities later said 530 people were burned alive.
When six bodies were found in a pit latrine in the same compound, and then 388 more in houses owned or rented by cult leaders in three other villages, officials began to speak of mass murder.
On April 6, police issued arrest warrants for Kataribabo, Joseph Kibwetere, Credonia Mwerinde and three other cult leaders. They were initially thought to have perished in the Kanungu fire.
Friends and relatives of the victims said cult leaders encouraged their followers to sell their worldly possessions to prepare for the end of the world that they said would occur Dec. 31 because the Ten Commandments were not being properly observed. When the end did not come, some of the members began to ask for their goods back.
Kataribabo, who earned a master's degree in religious studies from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in 1987, owned a house in Rugazi village where 155 of the buried bodies were exhumed on March 28 and 29.
Many cult members had been practicing Roman Catholics.
Kampala authorities could have waited even longer to dig in the Ggaba compound had heavy rain last week not created a sinkhole near the garage. That raised the suspicions of neighbors and police, who sealed off the area after poking around and initially finding nothing, neighbors said.
Four women and two teen-age boys who had lived in the house vanished three days before the Kanungu fire. Before that, Kataribabo had been seen there often with busloads of people who went inside to pray.
``We got complaints from people about the smell coming from the side of the garage two days after the occupants vanished,'' said Hamisi Kigozi, a local chief. ``We did not suspect much, but people were complaining that there might be bodies there.''
KAMPALA, April 27 (Reuters) - Uganda police on Thursday exhumed 55 bodies from a grave in the grounds of a Kampala house used by the leaders of the doomsday cult believed to have murdered more than 900 of its followers.
Police spokesman Assuman Mugenyi told journalists that rows of black plastic bags laid outside the bungalow contained the bodies of 22 women, 15 men, 10 boys and eight girls. He said the bodies had been in the ground for more than a month but it was not clear how the victims were killed.
The house rented by cult leader ``Father'' Dominic Kataribabo was sealed off late last week after local people noticed a strong smell coming from the ground following a heavy downpour.
About 500 members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God were burned alive in their church at Kanungu, southwestern Uganda, on March 17.
Nearly 400 more bodies were found in mass graves at homes belonging to the cult in the same region. Police believe the sect's leaders had been systematically killing their followers for months after a prediction that the world would end failed to come true.
Kampala - The Police have asked the Red Cross and other NGOs for logistical assistance for examining a possible new mass grave used by members of a doomsday cult, in Ggaba, a Kampala suburb, reports Davis Weddi, Jabweli Okello and Agencies.
The Police Director of Administration, Mr. Stephen Oonyu, yesterday said they had not started digging up the grave because of lack of logistics. He said they required overalls, gloves, waterproof jackets and nose masks.
The Police said on Tuesday they had sealed off a house in Ggaba suburb, rented by cult leader Fr Dominic Kataribaabo after a stench filled the area following a heavy downpour last week.
The cult, The Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, burnt 530 of their followers in a church in Rukungiri, south western Uganda, while hundreds of other bodies, totalling 1,000 were dug up.
KAMPALA, April 25 (Reuters) - Ugandan police said on Tuesday they were unable to start examining a possible new mass grave used by members of a Doomsday cult believed to have murdered around 900 of its followers because they lacked equipment.
Officials said on Tuesday they had sealed off a house in a Kampala suburb rented by cult leader ``Father'' Dominic Kataribabo after locals noticed a strong smell coming from the ground following a heavy downpour last week.
But it was not clear when police would move to dig up the site.
``We are not really equipped for the job and it is unlikely we will be going there soon,'' police spokesman Eric Naigambi told Reuters. ``We are trying to get equipped.''
He did not explain what equipment was missing but said a special task force was being created to deal with the issue.
The government was heavily criticised last month for using bare-footed prisoners to exhume nearly 400 corpses from mass graves at homes belonging to the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God in southwestern Uganda.
Around 500 other cult members were burned alive in a church at Kanungu in the same region on March 17.
Overwhelmed by the scale of the murders, police suspended their operations to exhume bodies early this month and said they would only resume digging at suspected mass grave sites when they had beefed up their small investigative team.
The discovery of the suspected mass grave near Kampala came early last week when neighbours complained of a foul smell.
``The soil had fallen in and something foul was smelling from inside,'' a police officer told Reuters. ``We are waiting to dig it up and find out what is causing the smell.''
Police have issued arrest warrants for six cult leaders, including Kataribabo, although they admit they do not know if they are still alive or whether they perished in the Kanungu blaze.
KAMPALA, April 24 (Reuters) - Ugandan police said on Monday they had found what they suspect could be another mass grave used by leaders of the Ugandan Doomsday cult believed to have murdered around 900 of their followers.
Police spokesman Eric Naigambi told Reuters the police had cordoned off a house rented by cult leader ``Father'' Dominic Kateribabo in a suburb of the capital Kampala, after locals noticed a strong smell coming from the ground.
``We have sealed off the house until we investigate it further,'' Naigambi said, adding that police had not yet begun digging.
Nearly 400 corpses, many of women and children, were unearthed last month in several mass graves in southwest Uganda in houses belonging to the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God.
Around 500 cult members were burned alive in a church at Kanungu in the same region on March 17.
Police believe cult leaders had been systematically killing their followers for months after a prediction that the world would end failed to come true.
The landlord of the house in Kampala, Moses Ssengendo, told local newspapers he had rented the property to Kateribabo for over a year, but that cult members had suddenly abandoned the house just before the Kanungu blaze.
He said his workers became suspicious after recent heavy rains caused the garage floor to sink, and had then noticed a strong stench coming from the ground.
Police have issued arrest warrants for six cult leaders, including Kateribabo, although they admit they do not even know if they are still alive or perished in the Kanungu blaze.
Overwhelmed by the scale of the murders, they suspended their operations to exhume bodies at the beginning of this month, and said they would only resume digging at suspected mass grave sites when they had beefed up their small investigative team.
Index Page: Ten Commandments of God: Tragedy in Uganda
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