At a school in western Uganda, Islamic State-affiliated rebels have killed nearly 40 students.
On Friday, around 23:30 (around 20:30 GMT), five militants attacked the Lhubiriha secondary school in Mpondwe.
According to officials, they entered dormitories, set fires, and killed and injured students with machetes.
A manhunt is underway and blame has been placed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which are based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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The school educates more than 60 people, the majority of whom live there.
Uganda’s data serve said 37 understudies were affirmed to have been killed, yet didn’t give their ages.
Chris Baryomunsi told the BBC that twenty of them were attacked with machetes and seventeen of them were burned to death.
The rebels, according to the Ugandan army, also killed three locals and a school guard.
After the machete attack, according to survivors, the rebels threw a bomb into the dormitory. It is unclear whether this caused the earlier-reported building fire.
He added that six students were also taken in order to transport food that the rebels had stolen from the school’s stores. The militants then crossed back into the DR Congo and entered the country.
DNA tests will be required to identify some of the bodies because it is believed that some of them have been severely burned.
After the attack, eight people are still in critical condition.
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, blasted the “appalling act” and demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.
In the direction of the DR Congo’s Virunga national park, Africa’s oldest and largest national park that is home to rare species like mountain gorillas, soldiers are pursuing ADF insurgents.
The vast expanse, which borders Uganda and Rwanda, is also used as a hideout by militias like the ADF.
On Twitter, spokesperson for the defense department Felix Kulayigye stated, “Our forces are pursuing the enemy to rescue those abducted and destroy this group.”
Helicopters have also been deployed by the Ugandan army to assist in the rebel group’s mountainous terrain tracking.
In order to stop the ADF from attacking, the two neighbors have conducted joint military operations in the east of DR Congo.
Maj Gen Olum stated that security forces had information indicating that rebels had been in the border region on the Congolese side for at least two days prior to Friday night’s attack.
However, residents of the area have criticized the government for not being ready for an attack.
One resident told reporters, “I want the security to tell us where they were when these killers came to kill our people if they are telling us the borders are secure and security is tight.”
The fatal incident occurs in the wake of the attack that occurred last week in a village in DR Congo near the Ugandan border by suspected ADF fighters. Over one hundred villagers fled to Uganda, but they have since returned.
The attack on the school, which is less than 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the border with Congo, is the first of its kind in 25 years.
An ADF attack on Kichwamba Technical Institute near the DR Congo border in June 1998 resulted in the deaths of 80 students who were burned to death in their dorms. More than one hundred students were kidnapped.
Richard Moncrieff, an expert in the region at the International Crisis Group, suggests that the group might recruit children by targeting schools. However, he informed the BBC that they also do it for the shock value.
Using yet another abbreviation for IS, Mr. Moncrieff stated, “These are terrorist groups who want to make and impact through violence. They want to show that they are there, show that they are active to their colleagues and allies in Isis in other parts of the world.”
The ADF was made in eastern Uganda during the 1990s and waged war against long-serving President, Yoweri Museveni, claiming government mistreatment of Muslims.
Official government statistics say that Muslims make up almost 14% of Ugandans, but the Ugandan Muslim Supreme Council says that number is closer to 35%.
According to some members of the Ugandan Muslim community, they are subjected to discrimination in public settings, such as the workplace and education.
The ADF moved to the DR Congo province of North Kivu following their defeat by the Ugandan army in 2001.
Jamil Makulu, the main founder of the group, was taken into custody in a prison in Uganda in 2015 after being detained in Tanzania.
For the past two decades, ADF rebels have been operating from within DR Congo.
Musa Seka Baluku, Makulu’s successor, reportedly pledged allegiance to IS for the first time in 2016, but the organization didn’t officially acknowledge its presence in the region until April 2019.
Although IS has largely been defeated, there are numerous IS-affiliated militant groups in the Middle East and Africa.
The ADF was blamed for a series of attacks in late 2021, including suicide bombings in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, after years of not operating openly in Uganda.