Fourteen Eritrean footballers disappear in Uganda

KAMPALA Mon Dec 3, 2012 11:05pm IST

KAMPALA (Reuters) - At least 14 members of the Eritrea soccer squad have disappeared in Uganda while playing in a regional tournament and may eventually claim asylum, Ugandan officials said on Monday.

Eritrea is one of the world's most secretive states ruled by a reclusive president. This year United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay accused the Asmara government of meting out summary executions, torture and detaining thousands of political prisoners.

In July last year 13 members of an Eritrean soccer club sought asylum in Tanzania while 12 members of the national squad disappeared in Kenya in 2009 after competing in a regional tournament.

Rodgers Mulindwa, a spokesman for the Federation of Ugandan Football Associations (FUFA), told Reuters the players had not been seen since early Sunday.

"It's true, some of the Eritrean players have disappeared. They've not been seen at their hotel since early yesterday and it's very unfortunate," Mulindwa said.

Police spokesman Ibn Sekundi put the number of missing squad members at 18 but said the team's management had informed them the players were simply "checking on relatives".

Eritrea were taking part in the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) competition. Eritrea last played on Friday, losing 2-0 to Rwanda.

Moses Watasa, from Uganda's Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) which is responsible for processing asylum applications, said the Eritrean players had not made contact.

"As of now we haven't had any contact with them so we don't know their whereabouts, but it's possible they might want to seek asylum later," he said.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Richard Lough and John Mehaffey)

Reuters Showcase

Beef Ban

Beef Ban

After beef ban, Hindu groups force abattoirs to close   Full Article 

RBI Rate Cut

RBI Rate Cut

RBI surprises with post-budget rate cut.  Full Article 

Documentary Banned

Documentary Banned

Documentary on 2012 Delhi gang rape banned in India.  Full Article 

Axed By Censor

Axed By Censor

Fifty Shades of Grey’s future gets greyer in India  Full Article 

Bollywood Focus

Bollywood Focus

Franchise Man swoops in to save Bollywood.  Full Article 

Snowden seeks Return

Snowden seeks Return

Fugitive ex-NSA contractor Snowden seeks to come home - lawyer.  Full Article 

Carry Your Litter

Carry Your Litter

Nepal tells Mount Everest litterbugs to take out the trash.  Full Article 

Reuters Interview

Reuters Interview

Budget lacks wow, but good enough: Jim O’Neill.  Full Article 

Defence Budget

Defence Budget

China defence budget rise to defy slowing economy.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage