KANUNGU, Uganda, March 16 (AP)--The rusting tire rim that served as a bell to summon the faithful swings from the branch of an avocado tree. A tangle of young saplings pushes up from the mass grave.

And the cult leaders presumed to be behind the fire that killed 330 of their followers are still at large one year later.

A ghostly silence hangs over the burned-out hall and the tidy, solid houses where the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God prayed and sang.

They were awaiting the day when God, angered by the world's sins, would send flames to destroy it and take the virtuous to heaven.

But the cult's leaders hastened judgment day and on March 17, according to police, herded 330 people, mostly women and children, into the makeshift mud-and-wattle temple, sprinkled combustible material, nailed the doors and windows shut and torched it.

In the following weeks, police followed a grisly trail to several houses owned or rented by presumed cult leaders, and found 448 more bodies stacked like firewood under concrete floors.

Hundreds of bodies ended up being bulldozed into a mass grave at the site, a converted farm.

Today, people in the hilly corner of southwestern Uganda say the place is haunted by the ghosts of their friends and relatives.

"As dusk approaches, we see figures of people moving up and down as they used to do before they were killed in the fire. They put on the same red and blue uniforms," said 18-year-old Deus Tweyongere, whose aunt and four cousins perished in the inferno.

Police still guard the site, and officially the investigation continues. But authorities seem to have little prospect of tracking down the alleged cult leaders, Joseph Kibwetere, defrocked Catholic priest Dominic Kataribaabo and a woman named Cledonia Mwerinde, who passed herself off as a nun.

Uganda is a poor country. Its police have no access to computer databases that might link them to neighboring countries where at least one suspect has been seen. They even lack gasoline for their few vehicles.

"The investigations are not easy, and we were not successful," said national police spokesman Asuman Mugenyi. "We only got air."

He said Kataribaabo was seen last year in Rwanda, at the camp of a different cult, and then in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Mwerinde, who once ran a bar, was seen in a village in southwestern Uganda. No one has seen Kibwetere, and many believe he could have perished in the fire.

Cult members were pushed to work 12-hour days in the fields and live frugally. They sold their belongings, and once inside the cult compound, could not leave again.

"Even during the day, I fear the place," said Peter Mogadi, a farmer. "We hear the ghosts wailing at night, and we see them moving. I know of a whole family of parents, children and grandchildren who had converted to the faith and died on March 17."

The compound's stone houses are still strewn with torn clothing, half-used tubes of toothpaste, jars of face cream and bits of candles.

No one has decided what to do with the compound. Charles Rwomushana, a former regional legislator, says it should be a place people can visit and remember the dead.

"This was an episode of its own in the century, an event of its own," he said.

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