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Fire destroys royal Ugandan tombs

KAMPALA, Uganda, March 17 (UPI) -- A fire in the royal Kasubi Tombs in Uganda sparked violent riots Wednesday as rumors of arson spread, authorities said.

The tombs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contain the bodies of Buganda kings dating back 150 years.

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Tuesday night's fire destroyed much of the thatch-roofed mausoleum and many royal artifacts of the Buganda kingdom, the BBC reported Wednesday. The cause of the fire remained unclear, authorities said.

Thousands of mourners filled the streets of Kampala and witnesses said at least one person was killed when government soldiers fired on the crowds.

The Buganda, Uganda's largest tribe, have had uneasy relations with President Yoweri Museveni's government since helping him come to power in 1986. Museveni tried to visit the tombs after the fire, but crowds blocked his convoy, the BBC reported.

Buganda is the largest of four ancient Ugandan kingdoms, which were abolished in 1966 and reinstated in 1993 by Museveni's government as cultural institutions with no political power.

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