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The BBC's Martin Dawes reports from Uganda
"There have been allegations of child abuse"
 real 28k

John Nagenda, Ugandan government spokesman
"A terrible tragedy of gullible human beings"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 11:25 GMT
Unceremonious burial for cult victims
The victims bodies were buried and then covered with rubble from the church
The mass grave was covered with rubble from the church
Investigations are continuing in the village of Kanungu in western Uganda into the deaths of hundreds of people who set themselves alight at a cult church.

The police are due to start work to get bodies from a number of pit latrines at a house used by the cult leaders.

They have already found the bodies of five people believed to have been murdered by the cult.

File photograph of sect founder Credonia Mwerinde
File photograph of cult founder Credonia Mwerinde
But other latrines have been blocked off with fresh concrete and it is feared that many other bodies remain to be discovered.

Much of the burnt down church has been bulldozed and the bodies found there have been buried in a large trench by prisoners.

On Monday, police counted the remains of 330 people, including 78 children in the cult's compound.

Most of the bodies were burned beyond recognition, reduced to husks piled one on top of another and fused together by the heat.

Identification will be almost impossible and it is unlikely an exact death toll will ever be reached.

Suicide or murder?

Police say the adults who died would be treated as suicide victims, but those under 18 would be regarded as murder victims.

But some relatives of the victims believe that what happened at the church was murder.

One relative, Christine Kapere stood with a baby on her hip as she tearfully surveyed the place where her mother, father and 15 other relatives died.

Her parents had written to her, urging her to join their religion, as they were going to heaven.

She believes her parents were murdered.

"They were forced," she said. "They were not free".

Religious icons
Religious icons were found around the movement's compound
Another relative who had come to the compound to visit her mother, told police that she had seen children leave the church to go out to play but that cult leaders then herded them back into the building, where she heard singing.

The woman then heard an explosion and shouts, police said.

Peering through a boarded-up window of the building where fire had broken out, the witness said she saw people in agony.

The authorities have announced that all branches of the cult are to be closed down.

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