September 30, 2023

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Suspected rebels attacked a faculty in a distant space of Uganda close to the Congo border, killing not less than 41 folks in a nighttime raid earlier than fleeing throughout the porous frontier, authorities stated. Thirty-eight college students of their dormitories have been among the many victims.

Some college students have been burned past recognition, and others have been shot or hacked to demise after militants armed with weapons and machetes attacked the varsity within the frontier district of Kasese, an area mayor instructed The Related Press.

Along with the 38 college students, one guard and two residents of the local people in Mpondwe-Lhubiriha city have been killed within the assault, stated Mayor Selevest Mapoze. A Ugandan army assertion stated the rebels kidnapped six college students, taken as porters of meals looted from the varsity’s retailer.

The college, co-ed and privately owned, is positioned about two kilometers (simply over a mile) from the Congo border.

Authorities are blaming the bloodbath at Lhubiriha Secondary College on the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, a shadowy extremist group which has been launching assaults for years from bases in unstable jap Congo. Villagers within the Congolese provinces of Ituri and North Kivu have been the victims of the group’s alleged assaults in recent times.

However assaults on the Ugandan aspect of the border are uncommon, thanks partly to the presence of an alpine brigade of Ugandan troops within the area.

The assault has despatched shockwaves on this usually peaceable East African nation whose long-time chief cites safety as a power of his authorities. It’s also a blow to the nation’s armed forces, who since 2021 have deployed in components of jap Congo beneath a mission particularly to search out the militants accused of attacking a faculty.

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Chatting with reporters close to the scene of the assault, the commander of Ugandan troops in Congo instructed reporters that the rebels spent two nights in Kasese earlier than finishing up their assault. He gave no additional particulars.

ADF rebels, when beneath strain, “divert” their pursuers’ consideration by splitting into small teams that then launch violent assaults somewhere else, stated Maj. Gen. Dick Olum, suggesting that the newest assault was an try by the rebels to ease battlefront strain.

“A typical ADF signature,” he stated, “as a result of that is strain. They’re beneath big strain, and that’s what they should do to indicate the world that they’re nonetheless there, and to indicate the world that they will nonetheless do havoc.”

The college raid, which occurred round 11:30 p.m., concerned about 5 attackers, in response to the Ugandan army. Troopers from a close-by brigade who responded to the assault discovered the varsity on fireplace, “with useless our bodies of scholars mendacity within the compound,” army spokesman Brig. Felix Kulayigye stated in a press release.

Winnie Kiiza, an influential political chief and a former lawmaker from the area, condemned the “cowardly assault” on Twitter. She stated “assaults on faculties are unacceptable and are a grave violation of youngsters’s rights,” including that faculties ought to at all times be “a secure place for each pupil.”

The ADF has been accused of launching many assaults in recent times focusing on civilians in distant components of jap Congo. It hardly ever claims accountability for assaults.

The ADF has lengthy opposed the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a U.S. safety ally who has held energy on this East African nation since 1986.

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The group was established within the early Nineties by some Ugandan Muslims, who stated they’d been sidelined by Museveni’s insurance policies. On the time, the rebels staged lethal assaults in Ugandan villages in addition to within the capital, together with a 1998 assault during which 80 college students have been massacred in a city not removed from the scene of the newest assault.

A Ugandan army assault later pressured the ADF into jap Congo, the place many insurgent teams are capable of function as a result of the central authorities has restricted management there. The group has since established ties with the Islamic State group.

In March, not less than 19 folks have been killed in Congo by suspected ADF extremists.

Ugandan authorities for years have vowed to trace down ADF militants even outdoors Ugandan territory. In 2021, Uganda launched joint air and artillery strikes in Congo towards the group.