According to student Julius Isingoma, who lives in western Uganda, he miraculously escaped a nighttime assault by alleged Islamist rebels on his school dormitory.
When we met him at Bwera General Hospital in the Kasese district, he said, “I smeared the blood of my dead colleagues in my mouth, ears, and on my head so that the attackers would think I was dead.”
Friday night’s attack on the secondary school in the small town of Mpondwe resulted in the deaths of approximately 40 people, including 37 students.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were cited as the perpetrators of the attack by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who added, “possibly working with other criminals because I hear that school had some wrangles.” He promised to pursue the militants in their hideouts across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo without going into further detail.
The ADF hasn’t said anything yet.
It took up arms against Mr. Museveni in the 1990s, claiming that the population of Muslims, a minority, was being persecuted.
In 2016, its leader was said to have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State (IS) organization.
However, IS did not officially acknowledge its presence in the region until April 2019, when it claimed to have attacked army positions near Uganda’s border.
With this statement, IS’s “Central Africa Province” (Iscap) was made public.
As the militants retreated to DR Congo, it is believed that six students were taken from them.
Julius was one of six people who were able to escape the multiple-hour assault.
Although he did not identify the attackers, he stated that they were men armed with guns and carried out their attack around 22:00 local time.
When they got to the boys’ dorm, the students realized they were in danger and had locked it.
He stated, “They hurled a bomb inside the dormitory when they couldn’t open the door and then used hammers and axes to break down the door.”
Julius was standing in front of a lot of the students who had set up a shield near the door and were shot dead when the terrorists entered the dorm.
There were cries as the understudies were gunned down, hacked or fired to death.
To hide, he jumped inside a bunk bed, removed some of the ceiling’s wooden planks, and quickly climbed to the top.
He watched helplessly as the assailants brutally murdered his colleagues from there before setting fire to mattresses and fleeing.
He stated, “I was overwhelmed by the smoke and dropped back into the dormitory with a thud.”
The militants returned after hearing the thud.
Julius was aware at that point that he needed to survive the attack.
“I thought quickly as I lay next to my friends’ bloodied bodies. After that, Julius stated, “I smeared a lot of blood into my mouth, ears, and head, and when the militants came, they checked my hand for a pulse and then left.”
Godwin Mumbere, another survivor, shared Julius’ dormitory.
The 18-year-old recalled the attackers entering the girls’ dormitory, dragging them out, and machete-slashing them to death.
After that, they reached the boys’ dorm, smashed the door, and began attacking the students.
Godwin’s friends who were on top of the bed that he was hiding under were killed when it tipped over.
He stated to the BBC, “The attackers saw me but thought I was dead.”
However, they checked to make sure that everyone was dead before returning to the dorm.
He stated, “They shot me in the hand at this point and set the dorm ablaze.”
Another student’s cries that they were dying brought Godwin back to reality.
He escaped from the dorm, scaled the school gate, and sped through a cocoa plantation to a nearby hardware store. He made it to a lodge, where he hid under a car until he was rescued.
The senior administrator of Bwera General Hospital, Clarice Bwambare, told the BBC that they began receiving the bodies of residents and students around 1:00 a.m., approximately three hours after the attack began on Friday night.
He mentioned that 18 of the 20 bodies they got were from students.
At the moment, five survivors are receiving treatment at the hospital. A girl in critical condition in the intensive care unit is one of them. Due to her severe head injury from the rebels’ hammer blow, a surgeon advised that she could not move.
According to Mr. Bwambare, one body had not been claimed from the morgue.
According to Uganda’s New Vision newspaper, devastated families buried 21 of the students on Sunday.
Julius expressed regret as he lay on his hospital bed that he was unable to attend their funerals. He stated that he wished he were a soldier who could retaliate and save his friends and coworkers’ lives.