KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- Ugandan police say they are searching for 17 Eritrea players who went missing from their team hotel in Kampala and didn't return home following the country's elimination from a regional tournament.

Police spokesman Ibn Senkumbi says the footballers were being sought for questioning as to why they weren't on a plane to Eritrea earlier Tuesday with the remainder of the squad after playing in the CECAFA Cup. Eritrea failed to win a game at the tournament for east and central African countries.

Senkumbi said the players, if found, would be subject to deportation from Uganda, adding police were looking for them "for their own safety.''

The entire Eritrea team sought refugee status at the 2009 CECAFA Cup in Kenya, while some Eritrean athletes went missing at this year's London Olympics.

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