Uganda school massacre: deadliest attack since 2010

A man praying A man praying Nambasi via Pixabay

Uganda is reeling from the worst attack in more than 10 years, killing 41 civilians, including 37 students

After more than a decade, Uganda is again reeling from one of the deadliest attacks to ever plague the country. In 2010, 76 people were killed in two attacks in the capital Kampala at the hands of the Somalia-based Al Shabab armed group. A few days ago, 41 civilians, including 37 students, were killed in an attack on the dormitory of Lhubiriha Secondary School, located in the town of Mpondwe, less than 2 km from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The students, interviewed by Al Jazeera, recounted that they were preparing for sleep when heard screams and saw several men wearing dark green suits, armed with guns and machetes, burst into the building. The dormitory was set on fire using gasoline bombs, and 17 male students died as a result of gunshots or were burned alive, while 20 female students were killed by machete blows. Some students survived by hiding under the bodies of others.

The attack was attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS, considered the deadliest among the dozens of armed militias based in eastern DRC. The attackers, whose exact number is not yet known, fled toward the Virunga National Park area, straddling the border, taking six students hostage. Felix Kulayigye, the spokesperson for the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF), said the armed forces are pursuing the perpetrators of the massacre to rescue the abducted students, but the search is made more difficult by the fact that many of the victims were burned beyond recognition, frustrating efforts to identify the dead and account for the missing.

In his first remarks after the attack, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni promised to hunt the attackers "into extinction”, and to deploy more troops on the Ugandan side of the border.

Pope Francis offered a prayer for "the young students who were victims of the brutal attack," while U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it "an appalling act" that drew condemnation from the international community. 


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by Chiara Cacciatore

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