A group of gunmen linked to the Islamic State terrorist organization stormed a school in western Uganda, killing 37 male and female students. The authorities accuse the ADF (Democratic Allied Forces) militia that has been operating for more than 20 years in the country, accused of causing the deaths of thousands of people. An operation is underway to rescue other students held hostage by the assailants, the Ugandan armed forces say.
The attack occurred at the Lhubiria high school, located less than two kilometers from the border that separates Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The target was invested by rebels belonging to the self-styled militia ADF (Democratic Allied Forces), who left a balance of 37 dead students, all aged 16 and over, according to Joe Walusimbi, commissioner of the Kasese district, where the educational center is located. .
According to a Ugandan police official, the attackers locked up the bedroom where the men slept and then set it on fire. The section where the women were was not blocked, but when they tried to flee they were attacked with machetes and shots. They would also have looted the food warehouse of the compound. General Dick Olum assured the AFP news agency that “many of the bodies are so charred that DNA tests will be needed to identify them.”
According to the military, the assailants knew the place well and had “detailed information” because they were informed of the location of the dormitories for men and women.
The Kasese commissioner specified that both the army and the police are chasing the terrorists, about five of them, who have fled to the Virunga National Park, located on the other side of the border, in the DRC.
The ADF was born in the 1990s to oppose then President Yoweri Museveni. Defeated militarily, its survivors took refuge in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the vast areas of jungle are an excellent natural hiding place. In 2019 they swore allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group.
Student murders are a known practice of the ADF. In June 1998, 80 students were burned alive in their dormitories in an attack on a technical institute.
Efforts by Uganda and the DRC to crack down on ADF actions have been unsuccessful.