UGANDA: Militants belonging to the Islamic State group (IS) killed around 40 students at a school in western Uganda. Eight more individuals are still in serious condition after an attack on a secondary school in Mpondwe, Lhubiriha.
The attack, attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces, targeted a school in the Kasese district of western Uganda, which educates over 60 students.
The Ugandan army reports five suspected ADF rebels carried out an attack on a school, looting a food store and setting fire to buildings. Some students were burned or hacked to death, according to Information Minister Chris Baryomunsi.
The perpetrators attacked students with machetes before detonating a bomb in a hostel. DNA testing will be required to identify some bodies, some of which are said to have suffered severe burns.
Images of a burning school have surfaced on social media, with potential casualties including community members. The exact number of fatalities remains unknown, and other pupils remain missing. National police spokesperson Fred Enanga claims many bodies were taken to Bwera Hospital.
Soldiers are following ADF terrorists towards Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa’s largest habitat for rare animals like mountain gorillas.
Uganda and the DRC conducted military operations in the east of DR Congo to prevent ADF attacks. Security forces had information that rebels had been at the DRC border region for at least two days. Locals criticized the government for not being prepared for an attack, demanding the security to reveal where they were when the attackers arrived.
ADF fighter raid in DRC near the Ugandan border resulted in a violent incident, killing over 100 villagers. The attack on a Ugandan school is the first in 25 years, following a 1998 raid on Kichwamba Technical Institute, where 80 students were killed, and over 100 were kidnapped.
Richard Moncrieff, a specialist with the International Crisis Group, suggests that the group may use schools to enlist children and use the shock effect. He also identifies them as terrorist groups targeting ISIS and their allies. The ADF, founded in Uganda in the 1990s, began fighting against President Yoweri Museveni and claimed Muslims were being persecuted by the government.
The Ugandan Muslim Supreme Council estimates Muslims make up 35% of the country’s population, compared to 14%, according to official government statistics. Some members of the Ugandan Muslim community say they face prejudice in society, particularly in the workplace and higher education institutions.
The ADF, founded by Jamil Makulu, moved to North Kivu province in 2001 and has been active within the DRC for 20 years.
Musa Seka Baluku, the successor to Makulu, swore allegiance to the Islamic State in 2016. Although the organization was mostly vanquished, there are still numerous militant organizations linked to it in the Middle East and Africa.
In late 2021, the ADF was accused of being behind attacks, including suicide bombs in Kampala.