At least 41 killed in rebel attack on Ugandan school
The mayor of the Ugandan border town where suspected rebels attacked a school has said 41 bodies were recovered, including 38 pupils.
Police said the rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who have been launching attacks for years from their bases in the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, carried out the raid on Lhubiriha Secondary School in the border town of Mpondwe, late on Friday.
Mpondwe-Lhubiriha mayor Selevest Mapoze said those killed include 38 pupils, one guard and two members of the local community who were shot outside the school.
Mr Mapoze said that while some of the pupils suffered fatal burns when the rebels set fire to a dormitory, others were shot or hacked with machetes.
The school, which is co-educational and privately owned, is located in the Ugandan district of Kasese, about 1.2 miles from the DR Congo border.
“A dormitory was set on fire and a food store looted. So far 25 bodies have been recovered from the school and transferred to Bwera Hospital,” police said in a statement, adding that eight others were in critical condition.
Officers said Ugandan troops tracked the attackers into Congo’s Virunga National Park.
The military confirmed in a statement that Ugandan troops inside Congo “are pursuing the enemy to rescue those abducted”.
Joe Walusimbi, an official representing Uganda’s President in Kasese, said some of the victims “were burnt beyond recognition”.
Winnie Kiiza, an influential political leader and a former lawmaker from the region, condemned the “cowardly attack” on Twitter.
She said “attacks on schools are unacceptable and are a grave violation of children’s rights”, adding that schools should always be “a safe place for every student”.
The ADF has been accused of launching many attacks in recent years, targeting civilians, in remote parts of eastern DR Congo.
The ADF has long opposed the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a US security ally who has been in power since 1986.
The group was established in the early 1990s by some Ugandan Muslims, who said they had been sidelined by Mr Museveni’s policies.
At the time, the rebels staged deadly attacks in Ugandan villages as well as in the capital, including a 1998 attack in which 80 students were massacred in a town not from the scene of the latest attack.
A Ugandan military assault later forced the ADF into eastern DR Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because the central government has limited control there.
The group has since established ties with the so-called Islamic State group.
In March, at least 19 people were killed in DR Congo by suspected ADF extremists.
Ugandan authorities for years have vowed to track down ADF militants even outside Ugandan territory. In 2021, Uganda launched joint air and artillery strikes in DR Congo against the group.