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Uganda's largest market gutted in fire

By AFP

KAMPALA (AFP) - A huge fire on Sunday gutted Uganda's largest market in central Kampala destroying merchandise worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, traders and police said.

Everest Kayondo, chairman of the Kampala City Traders' Association, told AFP that the blaze tore through Kampala's Owino market during the early hours of Sunday morning destroying thousands of stalls containing mainly clothing and household goods.

"It is so bad, everything has been gutted and there is nothing that has been saved," Kayondo said.

Kayondo said that no one had been hurt in the inferno but that around 10,000 traders had been affected and that the total value of the property lost was in the "billions of (Uganda) shillings".

The cause of the blaze was still unknown, as the market was empty at the time, Kayondo said. While firefighters had arrived at the scene they had apparently been unable to extinguish the inferno, he added.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that the blaze had destroyed the area of Owino known as Parkyard market around the Nakivubo stadium and said that a probe had been launched into what started the fire.

"We have just started the investigation to find out what has happened," police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba told AFP.

Usually a bustling warren of makeshift market stalls and eagle-eyed shoppers, much of Owino market was destroyed by fire in 2009.

© 2011 AFP

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