Suspected ADF rebels kill 25 students at Lubiriha secondary school

Man Jose Kayima

Suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have raided a privately-owned school at Mpondwe in Kasese District in western Uganda, killing at least 25 students and abducting several others, security sources said Saturday.

Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga confirmed the incident on Saturday. Enanga said that the incident happened at around 11pm on Friday.

“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 looted. So far 25 bodies have been recovered from the school and transferred to Bwera Hospital. 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,” police spokesperson, Enanga said as quoted by Daily Monitor

The killings come amid an unprecedented offensive by Congolese and Ugandan troops against the grouping the Islamic State group calls its affiliate.

For starters, in November 2021, Ugandan and Congolese troops launched a joint offensive against the ADF but more than a year later, the operation’s effectiveness remains unclear.

This is not the first time gunmen have attacked schools in the area. On June 8, 1998, ADF rebels attacked Kichwamba Technical Institute where they killed 80 students, left others injured and several abducted.

Security agencies in the Rwenzori Sub-region were said to be high alert early this week after the DR Congo-based ADF rebel group renewed attacks close to the Ugandan border.

Last Sunday night, ADF rebels attacked Domena Village in Kasindi, which is a few kilometres from Uganda’s border town of Mpondwe, killing several people.

At least 133 Congolese, including women and children, were forced to flee into Uganda and camped at Kabuyiri Catholic Church.

However, most of them later returned to their country after the situation normalised, while others stayed with their relatives on the Ugandan side of the border.

The rebels are said to have resumed attacks in areas which had been pacified by UPDF and DRC forces under a joint military operation code-named Operation Shujaa.

The ADF, the deadliest militia in eastern DRC, was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who ascended to power in 1986 following a five-year guerilla warfare.

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