Devastating Attack Claims Lives of Over 40 Students at Ugandan School

Approximately 40 students have lost their lives in an educational institution located in the western part of Uganda due to insurgents associated with the organization known as Islamic State (IS). Devastating attack claims lives of over 40 students at Uganda School leaving parents sad.

Late on Friday, at approximately 23:30 (20:30 GMT), five militants initiated an assault on Lhubiriha secondary school in Mpondwe.

They gained access to the student dormitories, setting the place on fire and using machetes butcher the students, confirmed by state officials.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been held responsible for this heinous act, and a search operation is currently underway.

The majority of the school’s population, which amounts to over 60 individuals, reside on the premises.

The Minister of Information for Uganda stated that 37 students were officially reported as deceased, although their ages were not disclosed.

Among the casualties, 20 were subjected to machete attacks, while 17 perished in the resulting fires, according to Chris Baryomunsi, who spoke to the BBC.

Furthermore, the Ugandan military confirmed that the rebels also claimed the life of a school security guard and three members of the local community.

Survivors recounted that after the machete assault, the insurgents threw a bomb into the dormitory. It remains unclear whether this action caused the previously mentioned fire reported at the site.

Moreover, six students were forcibly taken away to transport food stolen by the rebels from the school’s supplies, as stated by Baryomunsi. Subsequently, the militants retreated across the border into the DRC.

Several bodies are reported to have sustained severe burns, necessitating DNA testing for identification purposes.

Eight individuals remain in critical condition following the attack.

Devastating attack claims lives of over 40 students at Ugandan school with the hope of parents lost.

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations, denounced this “appalling act” and urged the perpetrators to be held accountable in a court of law.

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Soldiers are currently pursuing ADF insurgents towards Virunga National Park in the DRC, which happens to be the oldest and largest national park in Africa, housing rare species including mountain gorillas.

This expansive area, which shares borders with Uganda and Rwanda, serves as a hideout for various militias, including the ADF.

Felix Kulayigye, a defense spokesperson, declared on Twitter, “Our forces are pursuing the enemy to rescue those abducted and destroy this group.”

To aid in the tracking of the rebel faction across the mountainous terrain, the Ugandan military has deployed helicopters.

Uganda and the DRC have previously conducted joint military operations in the eastern part of the DRC to prevent ADF attacks.

According to Major General Olum, security forces possessed intelligence indicating the presence of rebels in the border region on the DRC side for at least two days before the assault on Friday night.

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However, local residents have criticized the authorities for their lack of preparedness in the face of such an attack.

One resident, speaking to reporters, questioned, “If they are telling us the borders are secure and security is tight, I want the security to tell us where they were when these killers came to kill our people.”

This tragic incident follows a recent assault believed to have been carried out by suspected ADF combatants in a village in the DRC near the Ugandan border. Over 100 villagers sought refuge in Uganda but later returned to their homes.

The attack on the school, situated less than 2km (1.25 miles) from the DRC border, marks the first instance of such an assault on a Ugandan educational institution in a quarter of a century.

In June 1998, 80 students were burned to death in their dormitories during an ADF attack on Kichwamba Technical Institute near the DRC border, resulting in the abduction of over 100 students.

According to Richard Moncrieff, an expert in the region at the International Crisis Group, the ADF might target schools to recruit children, while also aiming to create shockwaves with their acts of violence, showcasing their presence and activity to their allies in ISIS across the globe.

The ADF emerged in eastern Uganda during the 1990s, taking up arms against President Yoweri Museveni, citing alleged persecution of Muslims by the government.

Official government figures indicate that Muslims make up almost 14% of the Ugandan population, although the Ugandan Muslim Supreme Council estimates a higher percentage of around 35%.

Muslims in Uganda have voiced concerns about discrimination in various aspects of public life, including education and employment opportunities.

After facing defeat at the hands of the Ugandan army in 2001, the ADF relocated to North Kivu province in the DRC.

The group’s founder, Jamil Makulu, was apprehended in Tanzania in 2015 and is currently held in a Ugandan prison.

For the past two decades, ADF rebels have been operating from within the DRC.

Musa Seka Baluku, Makulu’s successor, reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2016. However, it wasn’t until April 2019 that IS officially acknowledged the ADF’s activities in the region.

While the Islamic State as a whole has faced significant setbacks, there are still numerous IS-affiliated militant groups spread across the Middle East and Africa.

Following years of operating clandestinely in Uganda, the ADF was implicated in a series of attacks in late 2021, including suicide bombings in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.