An armored personnel carrier of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) is seen outside the grounds of the attack at Mpondwe Rubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe, Uganda, on June 17, 2023. A school attack by militants linked to the Islamic State militant group in western Uganda has killed 37 people, the country’s military spokesman said on Saturday. (Photo credit: AFP) (Photo credit: -/AFP via Getty Images)
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Ugandan authorities recovered the bodies of 41 people, including 38 students who had been burned, shot or mutilated to death, after suspected rebels stormed a secondary school near the border with Congo on Saturday, the local mayor said. announced that it was contained.
At least six people were kidnapped by rebels and fled across the porous border to Congo after Friday night’s raid, according to the Ugandan military.
Authorities say the massacre at the Lubiriha secondary school in the border town of Mpondwe was blamed on the Democratic Coalition, a shadowy extremist group linked to the Islamic State, which has been launching attacks for years from its stronghold in unstable eastern Congo. criticized.
The victims included a student, a security guard and two locals who were killed outside the school, Mpondowe Rubiriha Mayor Selevest Maposeh told The Associated Press.
Mapose said some students were fatally burned and others were shot or mutilated when the rebels set the dormitory on fire.
The Ugandan military said the attack occurred around 11:30 pm and involved about five attackers. Soldiers from a nearby brigade responding to the attack found the school on fire and “there were dead bodies of students lying on the grounds,” military spokesman Brigadier General Brig said. Felix Craige said in his statement:
The statement said 47 bodies had been reported and eight others were injured and were being treated at local hospitals. The Ugandan military said it was “tracking the perpetrators to rescue the kidnapped students” who were forced to transport looted food to Congo’s Virunga National Park.
The school is co-educational and private and is located in Kasese, Uganda, about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the Congo border.
Kasese’s Ugandan presidential deputy, Joe Walsinbi, told the Associated Press by phone that some of the victims had “burns beyond recognition.”
The region’s influential political leader and former lawmaker, Winnie Keyza, took to Twitter to condemn the “cowardly attack.” “Attacks on schools are unacceptable and a grave violation of children’s rights,” he said, adding that schools should always be “a safe place for all students.”
The ADF has been accused of carrying out a number of attacks in recent years targeting civilians in remote areas of eastern Congo. Attacks are rarely claimed.
The ADF has long opposed the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a US security ally who has been in power in the East African country since 1986.
The group was founded in the early 1990s by some Ugandan Muslims who claim to have been alienated from President Museveni’s policies. At the time, rebels carried out deadly attacks not only in the capital but also in Ugandan villages, including a 1998 attack in which 80 students were massacred in a town that was not the site of the attack. rice field.
A subsequent Ugandan raid pushed the ADF into eastern Congo, where the limited control of the central government allows many rebels to operate.
The group has since established ties with Islamic State.
March at least 19 dead in Congo by suspected ADF militants.
Ugandan authorities have long vowed to hunt ADF militants even outside Ugandan territory. In 2021, Uganda launches joint air and artillery strikes Play against a group in Congo.