Gunmen kill 25 students in Uganda, abduct several others

Saturday June 17 2023

Police cordon off a crime scene in Uganda's capital Kampala. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NMG


At least 25 students were killed by armed gunmen who attacked a secondary school in western Uganda on Friday night, authorities in the country said.

Police said they suspect Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel militia with links to the Islamic State group, attacked Lubiriha Secondary School at around 11pm on Friday.

The gunmen abducted several other students, according to police.

"Last night, we recorded a terrorist attack by the ADF rebels on Lubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe, which is about 2km from the DR Congo border.

"A dormitory was burnt down, and a food store looted. So far, 25 bodies have been recovered from the school and taken to Bwera Hospital. In addition, eight victims have been rescued and remain in critical condition in hospital.

Read: Bomb scare hits Uganda’s Entebbe Expressway


"A hot pursuit by Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) and police is underway towards Virunga National Park," Uganda police spokesperson Fred Enanga said. 

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.

Earlier this week, security officials in the area warned residents of terrorist threats in the region.

This is not the first time gunmen have attacked schools in the area. On 8 June 1998, ADF rebels attacked Kichwamba Technical Institute, killing 80 students, wounding others and abducting several.

Read: Ugandans still face threats from ADF terrorist group

Earlier this week, security services in the Rwenzori sub-region were said to be on high alert after the DR Congo-based ADF rebel group resumed attacks near the Ugandan border.

Last Sunday night, ADF rebels attacked Domena village in Kasindi, a few kilometres from the Ugandan border town of Mpondwe, killing several people.

At least 133 Congolese, including women and children, were forced to flee into Uganda and camped at the Kabuyiri Catholic Church.

However, most of them later returned to their country after the situation normalised, while others stayed with relatives on the Ugandan side of the border.

The rebels are said to have resumed attacks in areas that had been pacified by UPDF and DRC forces under a joint military operation codenamed Operation Shujaa.

The ADF, the deadliest militia in eastern DRC, was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose largest group was made up of Muslims opposed to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who came to power in 1986 after a five-year guerrilla war.