What you need to know:
- Eight victims who were recovered remain in critical condition at Bwera Hospital, according to police.
- A hot pursuit by the UPDF and the police is ongoing, towards Virunga national park.
Gunmen suspected to be Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have attacked a privately-owned school at Mpondwe in Kasese District in western Uganda, killing at least 25 students and abducting several others, security sources said Saturday.
Police confirmed the Lhubiriha Secondary School attack and deaths that happened at around 11pm on Friday, fearing the number could be higher as their operation was still ongoing.
"Last night, we registered a terrorist attack by the ADF rebels, on Lhubiriha secondary school, in Mpondwe, that is located about 2kms, from the DRC 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. Also recovered are 8 victims, who remain in critical condition at Bwera Hospital. A hot pursuit by the UPDF and the police is ongoing, towards Virunga national park," police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga said.
The killings come amid an unprecedented offensive by Congolese and Ugandan troops against the grouping the Islamic State group calls its affiliate.
In November 2021, Ugandan and Congolese troops launched a joint offensive against the ADF but more than a year later, the operation's effectiveness remains unclear.
Early this week, the security in the area warned residents of terror threats in the area.
This is not the first time gunmen have attacked schools in the area. On June 8, 1998, ADF rebels attacked Kichwamba Technical Institute where they killed 80 students, left others injured and several abducted.
Security agencies in the Rwenzori Sub-region were said to be high alert early this week after the DR Congo-based ADF rebel group renewed attacks close to the Ugandan border.
Last Sunday night, ADF rebels attacked Domena Village in Kasindi, which is a few kilometres from Uganda’s border town of Mpondwe, killing several people.
At least 133 Congolese, including women and children, were forced to flee into Uganda and camped at Kabuyiri Catholic Church.
However, most of them later returned to their country after the situation normalised, while others stayed with their relatives on the Ugandan side of the border.
The rebels are said to have resumed attacks in areas which had been pacified by UPDF and DRC forces under a joint military operation code-named Operation Shujaa.
The ADF, the deadliest militia in eastern DRC, was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who ascended to power in 1986 following a five-year guerilla warfare.