A Ugandan government official says 16 Rwandan students who fled to Uganda over alleged recruitment for Congolese rebels are being considered for refugee status despite Rwanda's protestation.

David Kazungu, Uganda's commissioner for refugees, said the students are now under police protection.

The students' account is disputed by Rwanda's government, which wants them deported.

Frank Mugambage, Rwanda's ambassador to Uganda, told reporters this week that the students' case was academic and had nothing to do with politics or security. Rwanda's education ministry has listed the fleeing students among more than 500 whose results were officially confiscated for alleged malpractices.

The students say they fled Rwanda on June 3 after suffering persistent harassment by Rwandan officials who wanted them to join the Congolese rebel group M23.