Kampala (Caasimada Online) – Uganda experienced its bloodiest militant attack in over a decade as 41 people were brutally killed in a chilling assault on a school.
Sylvester Mapozi, the town council mayor of Mpondwe-Lhubiriha, where the assault occurred, revealed that 39 victims were students at Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe.
The attack also left two community members dead and several students missing or unrecognizable, said Mapozi.
The attackers, suspected to be linked to the Islamic State group and reportedly belonging to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), stormed into the school late on Friday night.
Mumbere Edgar Dido, a 16-year-old survivor, recounted the terrifying moments when the assailants, armed with guns and machetes, opened fire and set dormitories on fire.
The militants proceeded from the boys’ dormitory to the girls’ dormitory, leaving behind a trail of fear and death.
The horrific attack was met with global outrage and condemnation. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his deep sadness and strongly condemned the attackers.
In a statement, his spokesperson, Farhan Haq, demanded that those responsible be held accountable.
International responses also poured in from France and the US, denouncing the attack and expressing condolences to the affected families.
The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), determined to bring the culprits to justice and rescue the abducted victims, launched an operation to pursue the assailants.
The perpetrators are believed to have fled towards Virunga National Park, a vast area bordering Uganda, explained UPDF spokesperson Felix Kulayigye.
Upon arriving at the school following an alert of a significant attack, the military and police units found the buildings ablaze, with student bodies scattered across the compound and the school’s food store looted.
Major General Dick Olum voiced concerns about the attackers’ intricate knowledge of the school’s layout, suggesting they were well-prepared for this barbaric act.
An investigation has been initiated to discern any potential intelligence lapses.
A History of Violence
This isn’t the first time the ADF, a militia group known for violence in eastern DR Congo, has targeted Ugandan schools.
In June 1998, the group burnt 80 students to death in their dormitories at Kichwamba Technical Institute, with over 100 students abducted.
A joint offensive by Uganda and DR Congo in 2021 to curb the ADF’s violence has been unsuccessful, as the group continues to wreak havoc in the region.
Reflecting on the brutality of the attack, Vice President Jessica Alupo expressed her profound grief, describing the incident as “pathetic and regrettable.”
This sentiment was echoed by Florence Kabugho, an MP for Kasese, who called for an examination of security measures given the heavy military presence close to the border.
These tragic events underscore the urgent need to strengthen security measures and work toward peace in the region.