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Two Indians killed in Uganda racial attack

A mob protests the proposed expansion plan of an Indian sugar firm. Tell us your story

india Updated: Apr 16, 2007 11:50 IST

Indians in the Ugandan capital Kampala are still frightened and shaken after Thursday's mob attack in which at least two Indians were killed and a Hindu temple attacked by a mob protesting the proposed expansion plan of an Indian sugar firm by cutting down a protected rainforest.

The mob was protesting at the move by The Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (Scoul), part of the Indian-owned Mehta group, to expand its sugar estates by cutting the Mabira rain forest- one of Uganda's last remaining patches of natural forest.

It has been a nature reserve since 1932.

Troops had to be deployed to control the situation, after police failed to stop rioters attacking Asian businesses.

Shangu Patel of the Indian Association, went around the city Friday encouraging Asians to reopen their shops but his efforts were met with scepticism, the online edition of New Vision reported.

"How can we be very sure that there will be no repeat?" asked a local Indian shopkeeper.

The controversy began last year when the Ugandan government ordered a study into whether to cut down nearly a third of Mabira -- one of Uganda's last remaining patches of natural forest.

The government's proposal had angered many in the country who alleged that the environmental costs of slashing the forest would far exceed the economic benefits of the plantation.

Until 1972, Asians constituted the largest non-indigenous ethnic group in Uganda. In that year, the Idi Amin regime expelled 50,000 Asians, who had been engaged in trade, industry, and various professions. In the years since Amin's overthrow in 1979, Asians have slowly returned.