At least 25 students have been confirmed dead, several injured, and several abducted in the alleged rebel attack. It was said by security organs that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is connected to the Islamic State rebel group, launched the attack on the school.
According to national police spokesman Fred Enanga, the incident happened on Friday at 11 p.m. at a privately owned school in Mpondwe in Kasese district in western Uganda.
Fred Enanga said, “Last night, we registered a terrorist attack by the ADF rebels on Lhubiriha secondary school, in Mpondwe, which is located about 2 kilometers from the DRC border. A dormitory was burned, and a food store was looted. So far, 25 bodies have been recovered from the school and transferred to Bwera Hospital. Also recovered are eight victims, who remain in critical condition at Bwera Hospital. A hot pursuit by the UPDF and the police is ongoing, towards Virunga National Park.”
Enanga said the army and police units were in “hot pursuit” of the attackers, who fled in the direction of Virunga National Park over the border in DR Congo.
The attack has come after the Congolese and Uganda Militia launched attacks on the ADF in the Utuli forests in 2021, and this followed the several Kampala bombings that happened in 2021.
Last Sunday night, ADF rebels attacked Demona Village in Kasindi; the village is about 2km from the Congo-Uganda border town of Mpondwe, and several were killed.
Virunga, a vast expanse on the border with Uganda and Rwanda, is the oldest nature reserve in Africa and is renowned worldwide as a sanctuary for rare species, including mountain gorillas.
Originally insurgents in Uganda, the ADF gained a foothold in eastern DR Congo in the 1990s and has since been accused of killing thousands of civilians.
Since 2019, some ADF attacks in eastern DR Congo have been claimed by the Islamic State group, which describes the fighters as a local offshoot, the Islamic State Central Africa Province.
It is not the first attack on a school in Uganda attributed to the militia.
In June 1998, 80 students were burned to death in their dormitories in an ADF attack on Kichwamba Technical Institute near the border of DR Congo. More than 100 students were abducted.
Uganda and DR Congo launched a joint offensive in 2021 to drive the ADF out of their Congolese strongholds, but the measures have so far failed to end the group’s attacks.
In March of this year, the United States announced a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the capture of the ADF’s leader.