Kampala (Caasimada Online) – The Ugandan opposition has reacted strongly to the brutal murder of students in the country’s western region last week, carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – a militia group with roots in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Their ruthless attack, in which they killed 42 individuals, including 37 students, has shocked the nation and raised significant concerns over its security preparedness.
The ADF, previously implicated in bombings in the East African country, managed to meticulously plan and execute this attack undetected, which begs the question of how effective is the country’s security framework.
Shadow minister advocates
In a press conference on Wednesday, Abdallah Kiwanuka, the opposition’s shadow cabinet minister for internal affairs, expressed the opposition’s stance on this critical issue.
“Our troop commitments overseas, such as in Somalia where we are part of an African Union force battling Islamist insurgents, have ‘overstretched’ our security resources,” he stated.
“This has created room for the ADF to execute attacks within our borders.”
Kiwanuka further implored the government to heed their call. “Our aim is to urge the government to retract our forces from foreign territories and bolster our domestic security,” he told AFP.
Ongoing investigation and arrests
In response to the gruesome assault, police have detained 21 individuals in relation to the incident, including the principal and director of Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe, where students were shot, mutilated, and set on fire.
Among the detained was a man named Kalenzi Resto, who announced his ADF membership in a viral TikTok video.
“Investigations are currently underway,” confirmed police spokesman Fred Enanga.
While investigations continue, families await DNA test results to identify the charred remains of their loved ones.
Besides executing their heinous act, the assailants kidnapped several students. They fled toward the Uganda-DRC border, known for its lax security.
The uncertainty has left families on edge, desperate to see the fate of their kin.
Roti Masereka, a local driver, shared his turmoil with AFP, “We don’t know whether my brother’s son is among the deceased or the kidnapped… It has been a long, painful wait.”
ADF’s rise and persistence
Initially composed predominantly of Muslim Ugandan rebels, the ADF established itself in the DRC’s eastern region during the 1990s.
In 2021, Uganda and the DRC initiated a joint offensive to dislodge the ADF from their Congolese bases.
However, their efforts have been unsuccessful in curtailing the group’s violent activities.
Furthermore, since 2019, the Islamic State group has claimed several ADF attacks in the DRC, recognizing the fighters as the Islamic State Central Africa Province.