Pupils among 40 slain in Uganda school attack by militants affiliated to the Islamic State group
Around 40 people, including students, were killed at a school in western Uganda by Islamic State-affiliated insurgents.
A additional eight individuals are in serious condition following the attack on Mpondwe’s Lhubiriha secondary school.
Boys from the school’s dormitories were among those killed.
The attack on Friday was carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan militia located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
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According to national police spokesperson Fred Enanga, many of the dead have been brought to Bwera Hospital.
The attack occurred on Friday about 23:30 local time (20:30 GMT) at a school in the Kasese area of western Uganda.
The institution educates about 60 students, the majority of whom reside on campus.
During the event, ADF rebels burned a dormitory and plundered a food shop, according to Mr Enanga.
According to Ugandan army Major General Dick Olum, several of the youngsters were burned or hacked to death.
Others at the school, largely girls, have been kidnapped, he said.
The victims’ ages have not been revealed.
Some of the bodies are claimed to have been severely burned, and DNA tests will be required to identify them.
The attackers are claimed to have set fire to the pupils’ bedding and exploded devices in the area.
Social media has been flooded with images of the school’s burning structures.
Members of the larger community may be among the dead. A number of kids are still missing, and the precise number of those killed remains unknown.
Soldiers are following ADF terrorists toward the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Virunga national park, Africa’s oldest and largest national park, which is home to rare animals such as mountain gorillas.
Militias, especially the ADF, use the huge territory that borders Uganda and Rwanda as a safe haven.
“Our forces are pursuing the enemy in order to rescue those abducted and destroy this group,” stated defense spokesperson Felix Kulayigye on Twitter.
The Ugandan army has also sent helicopters to assist in tracking the rebel group over mountainous terrain.
Uganda and the DRC have conducted coordinated military operations in the east of the DRC to avoid ADF attacks.
According to Major General Olum, security forces had knowledge that rebels had been in the border area on the DRC side for at least two days prior to Friday night’s strike.
The tragic incident follows an attack last week in a DRC village near the Ugandan border by alleged ADF fighters. Over 100 villagers escaped to Uganda, only to return.
The attack on the school, which is less than two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is the first against a Ugandan school in 25 years.
In June 1998, an ADF raid on Kichwamba Technical Institute near the DRC border resulted in the deaths of 80 students in their dormitories. Over 100 pupils were kidnapped.
In the 1990s, the ADF was formed in eastern Uganda and took up arms against long-serving President Yoweri Museveni, citing government persecution of Muslims.
According to official government numbers, Muslims make up around 14% of the Ugandan population, however the Ugandan Muslim Supreme Council says the ratio is closer to 35%.
Some members of Uganda’s Muslim minority claim to endure discrimination in public life, including education and employment.
After being defeated by the Ugandan army in 2001, the ADF migrated to the DRC’s North Kivu province.
Jamil Makulu, the group’s key founder, was caught in Tanzania in 2015 and is currently being held in a Ugandan prison.
For the past two decades, ADF insurgents have operated from within the DRC.
Musa Seka Baluku, Makulu’s successor, purportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2016, but it wasn’t until April 2019 that IS recognized its presence in the area.
The Islamic State as a group has been largely crushed, but there are still numerous IS-affiliated extremist groups operating in the Middle East and Africa.
The ADF was implicated for a series of strikes in late 2021, including suicide bombings in Uganda’s capital Kampala, after years of not operating openly in Uganda.