Parliament Foreign affairs: Silent MPs listen to Uganda statement

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The Independent Online
THE COMMONS listened in shocked silence to an emergency statement by the Foreign Secretary in which he announced that four Britons had been killed after being taken hostage in Uganda.

Robin Cook said last night that he was seeking an explanation about the deaths of the four British tourists after assurances by the Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister 24 hours earlier that no military action would be taken that might put lives at risk.

"We are seeking urgent clarification from the Ugandan authorities of the circumstances in which these deaths took place," Mr Cook said. "It is not yet clear whether the Ugandan military intervened directly, but if that is confirmed we will want an immediate explanation."

Mr Cook said the Foreign Office travel advice for Uganda was updated on 19 February. It warned: "Rebels are periodically active in Uganda/ Rwanda/Congo border areas around the Kisoro district. Although the situation is currently peaceful, it can change quickly."

That advice was changed yesterday to warn all against all travel to the border areas, Mr Cook said. But he agreed with Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman, that travel companies had a responsibility to warn tourists away from dangerous areas.

Mr Cook said: "It is important that travel companies do not treat the advice from the Foreign Office as some sort of indemnity. They should provide frank and clear warnings to those who travel with them."