“Senseless act of violence”: At least 25 killed in rebel attack on Ugandan school near Congo border

Ugandan police said at least 25 people have been killed in a suspected rebel attack on a school near the Congo border.

A government official said others were also abducted.

In a statement on Saturday, police authorities said that the Allied Democratic Forces carried out the attack late Friday night on a school in the border town of Mpondwe.

Lhubiriha Secondary School, which is privately owned, is located in the Ugandan district of Kasese, about 2 kilometres from the Congo 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,” the statement said, adding that eight others were in critical condition.

It was not immediately clear if all of the victims were students.

The statement said Ugandan troops tracked the attackers “into Congo’s Virunga National Park.”

Joe Walusimbi, an official representing Uganda’s president in Kasese, told The Associated Press over the phone that authorities were trying to verify the number of victims and those abducted.

“Some bodies were burnt beyond recognition,” he said.

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 Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, is accused of launching many attacks on civilians in recent years, notably on civilian communities, in remote parts of eastern Congo.

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

Established in the early 1990s in Uganda, the ADF later was forced to flee into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because of the country’s limited control over the area.

The group also has ties with the Islamic State group.

At least 19 people were killed in Congo in March by suspected ADF extremists.

Ugandan authorities for years have vowed to track down ADF militants “at home and abroad.” In 2021, Uganda launched joint air and artillery strikes in Congo against the group.

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