Armed rebels assaulted a school in the country’s western region, murdering at least 41 persons (mainly pupils) and kidnapping six more. Military spokesman Felix Kulayigye told CNN that some were killed with machetes and others died when their dorms caught fire, According to Ugandan authorities.
According to the Ugandan military, some 20 members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group with ties to ISIS, assaulted the Lhubirira secondary school late on Friday. The village of Kasese, on Uganda’s border with the Congo, is home to the school, which serves students aged 13 to 18.
Officials in the area have confirmed that 39 of the dead were students and 2 were members of the local community. On Saturday morning, firefighters were still working to put out the blaze. While the military has stated that no living people are believed to be trapped in the school, they do believe that more bodies may be discovered.
Kulayigye claims that at least 62 individuals were inside the school when it was attacked. “We’re commiserating with the families, and the leadership of the UPDF (Ugandan Peoples’ Defense Forces) are on the ground and have been deployed to protect the place,” he added.
The attack was denounced by the UN. “Those responsible for this appalling act must be brought to justice,” the statement added. Extending “heartfelt condolences” to victims and their families, Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for the immediate release of those abducted and reiterated “the importance of collective efforts to tackle cross border insecurity between Congo and Uganda and restore durable peace in the area.”
Major Bilal Katamba, a spokesman for Uganda’s military operations in the DRC, told CNN that the government forces are actively searching for the suspects in the DRC and that intelligence suggests they would eventually enter Virunga National Park.
According to Major Dick Olum, who heads the UPDF operation in eastern DRC, the rebels spent two days in the town before the massacre, during which time they were led and shown around by locals. “Everyone should be on the lookout,” he told people of Kasese.
“If you see someone you don’t recognize, have him arrested. Please identify the youth that led the ADF here,” he appealed.
‘Very Crowded’ Mortuary
Armed military vehicles were seen in the neighborhood and large sections of the school were roped off in video footage taken after the shooting. People were also spotted congregating in large numbers inside the schools.
On Saturday, government officials from Uganda, led by Higher Education Minister John Muyingo, toured the campus. First Lady Janet Museveni sent a message on Twitter, saying the government was “providing support for the bereaved families during this trying time.”
“On behalf of the Ugandan government… I extend heartfelt condolences to the families, students, staff of Lhubiliriha Secondary School and the broader community affected by this tragedy,” she said.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Armed rebels attacked a school in western Uganda, killing at least 41 people, mostly students, and abducting six others, Ugandan officials have said. https://t.co/aVhSy3y5WP
— WKOW 27 News (@WKOW) June 17, 2023
“We call upon everyone to offer prayers for the affected families and community while also urging vigilance to uphold the safety of our children in schools.” “I remain confident that the UPDF, with divine guidance, will ensure those responsible face justice,” she added.
According to a witness who lost three cousins in the incident, the local mortuary is “very crowded” due to the ongoing treatment of casualties brought out of the school. “I knew my relatives were at school, so when I heard about the incident, very early in the morning we rushed to the hospital and we found their bodies there, and the mortuary was very crowded,” Clay Biromunane said.
When the shooting started at around 10:40 p.m. local time, Biromunane was in his bedroom around 300 meters away from the school. “People are still looking for their families,” Biromunane said. The 35-year-old resident of the area stated the community was “very much surprised” by the incident.
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The mayor of Mpondwe, Mapoze Slevest, also expressed shock, telling reporters that the city “was a good community with no rebels.” The ADF was created in the mid-1990s and quickly mobilized along the mountainous border between Uganda and the DRC to begin fighting against the government.
Attacks on minors were among the reasons the United States and the United Nations imposed sanctions on the group in 2014. The US Department of Treasury denounced the ADF “for targeting children in situations of armed conflict, including through killing, rape, abduction and forced displacement.” At least 12 people were killed in a January church bombing in the DRC that was blamed on the ADF.
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