In a horrific event that has shocked the East African country of Uganda, a suspected rebel group launched a brutal attack on a school in a remote area near the border with Congo. The nighttime raid claimed the lives of at least 41 individuals, most of them students sleeping in their dormitories.
The assailants, armed with guns and machetes, stormed the school in Kasese district, killing and causing injuries with a chilling disregard for life. The victims included one security guard and two community residents from Mpondwe-Lhubiriha town, along with 38 students.
Some were shot, others hacked to death, and some were so badly burned as to be unrecognizable.
The suspected rebels also kidnapped six students, whom they forced to carry food stolen from the school’s store. This co-ed, privately owned school is situated roughly two kilometers from the border with Congo.
The authorities believe the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a mysterious extremist group, to be behind the attack on Lhubiriha Secondary School. This group is notorious for its raids launched from its hideouts in the unstable eastern part of Congo, mainly targeting villagers in the Congolese provinces of Ituri and North Kivu.
However, such attacks on the Ugandan side are not common, owing partially to the presence of Ugandan troops in the region. This recent assault is a setback for Uganda’s armed forces, who have been deployed since 2021 in parts of eastern Congo specifically to track down these militants.
The ADF, when under stress, is known to divide its forces into smaller groups to distract their pursuers and carry out violent attacks elsewhere. The horrific school raid fits this pattern, with only about five attackers involved.
Upon arriving at the gruesome scene, responding soldiers from a nearby brigade found the school ablaze, with the lifeless bodies of students scattered throughout the compound. This tragedy has had a profound impact on Uganda, a country known for its relative peace and security.
The ADF, established in the early 1990s by some Ugandan Muslims who felt marginalized by the policies of President Yoweri Museveni, rarely admits responsibility for its attacks. It has been notorious for its violent actions against civilians in remote parts of eastern Congo.
This brutal group has always been against Museveni, who has held power in Uganda since 1986 and is a security ally of the U.S.
Following a deadly assault by the Ugandan military, the ADF retreated into eastern Congo, where the central government’s control is limited. The group has reportedly established connections with the Islamic State group.
The Ugandan authorities, shocked by this incident, continue to pledge their determination to track down ADF militants, regardless of their location.