KASESE, UGANDA: At least 25 students have been killed in a terror attack by gunmen suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in Kasese, western Uganda, police said on Saturday morning
The heartbreaking incident happened at around 11pm on Friday when the militants raided a privately-owned school Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School (formerly Peter Hunter SS) in Kasese near the Uganda-DRC border.
“Last night, we registered a terrorist attack by the ADF rebels, on Lubiriha secondary school, in Mpondwe, that is located about 2kms, from the DRC border. A dormitory was burnt and a food store was looted. So far 25 bodies have been recovered from the school and transferred to Bwera Hospital,” said Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson in a Saturday statement.
“Also recovered are 8 victims, who remain in critical condition at Bwera Hospital. A hot pursuit by the UPDF and the police is ongoing, towards Virunga national park,” he added.
According to one of the eyewitnesses who exclusively spoke to DailyExpress on Saturday morning, the suspected ADF fighters attacked the school when the students were sleeping in their dormitory before hacking several of them.
“The lifeless bodies of students were found in the school compound, and the victims were viciously hacked to death with machetes.”
“The school van was also burned down,” added a local official who preferred anonymity to speak freely.
The rebels are said to have broken into the school’s store, where they looted food (posho and beans) and other items and later abducted an unknown number of students before crossing back into the DRC.
The school had about 50 students but so far, authorities said only three survivors had been recorded, meaning over 20 students were abducted by the militants.
This is the second time militants have attacked Ugandan territory from the DRC in less than a year.
In December 2022, the Ugandan army killed 11 ADF fighters after they entered Uganda from the DRC.
The Ugandan army said about 30 members of the rebel ADF entered Uganda through the western town of Ntoroko, along the Semliki River.
In November 2021, the Ugandan army sent troops to the eastern DRC in a joint offensive with the Congolese army against the ADF rebels.
Government accuses the Islamic State-linked organisation of committing atrocities in the DRC and assassinating high-profile citizens in Uganda.
The ADF has also been blamed for detonating bombs in different parts of Uganda in acts of terrorism.
The incident also invokes memories of the June 1998 attack when gunmen suspected of the ADF raided Kichwamba Technical Institute and killed over 80 students, left others injured and several abducted.
It remains to be seen if the ADF’s motivation for Friday night’s incursion was to show they are still active and to carry out reprisal attacks on civilians.
President Museveni recently said the ADF had been weakened by relentless attacks by the UPDF and pushed far away from the porous Uganda-DRC border.
By press time, police and military had deployed counterterrorism and specialised combat forces at the school as a hunt for the ADF killer intensifies.