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Uganda: Dozens dead in attack on school near Congo border

June 17, 2023

Authorities said 41 people were killed when an Islamic State-aligned group attacked a school in the nation's west.

Relatives are seen covering their faces at the premises of an attack in Mpondwe, Uganda, on June 17, 2023
Forty-one people, including many students were burned, shot or hacked to death in the attackImage: Marco Longari/AFP

At least 41 people were killed in an attack on a school in western Uganda, a local mayor said on Saturday.

According to police, the Lhubirira secondary school in Mpondwe was raided by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)— a Ugandan group based in eastern Congo that is aligned with the Islamic State — late on Friday.

The school is situated 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A police statement described how a dormitory was set on fire and a food store looted in the attack.

The police did not expand on the nature of the attack or how the victims died, but a reporter for the Daily Monitor newspaper described how some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Mayor Selevest Mapoze says those killed included 38 students, one guard and two members of the local community who were shot outside the school.

The UN secretary general strongly condemned the attack, offering his condolences to the families of the victims, his spokesman said on Saturday.

"Those responsible for this appalling act must be brought to justice," Guterres' spokesman Farhan Haq said in a statement.

Dozens killed in Ugandan school attack

Some students reportedly taken hostage

The Daily Monitor cited a senior military official as saying that some of the students had been abducted.

The military official said the boys had been locked into one dormitory, which was set ablaze, while the girls were hacked with machetes in another dormitory. Some of the victims were shot dead.

In an earlier tweet, police described how they had retrieved 25 bodies. and that eight people were in a critical condition in the hospital.

Ugandan forces were pursuing the attackers who fled towards Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, police said.

The ADF found a foothold in eastern DRC in the 1990s. It has since been accused of killing thousands of civilians.

The group has long opposed the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a US security ally who has been in power since 1986.

A Ugandan military assault later forced the ADF into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because the central government has limited control there.

In April, the ADF attacked a village in eastern DRC, leaving at least 20 people dead.

Congolese youth join the army to fight rebels

mm, dvv/kb (AFP, Reuters)