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Uganda: Grieving relatives bury their dead after school attack

The coffins of Florence Masika and her son Zakayo Masereka are carried to their burial in Nyabugando, Uganda Sunday, June 18, 2023   -  
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Hajarah Nalwadda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


A bereaved Ugandan town in the country's west began burying the victims an attack by suspected extremist rebels. At least 41 people were killed in Mpondwe near the DRC border.

In addition to the 38 students, the victims include a school guard and three civilians. At least two of them, members of the same family, were buried on Sunday (June 18).

"The family we lost 2 of them who are dead. One is still in the hospital who was beaten by a hammer to the head and there was a certain boy who they went with him."

The suspects attacked Lhubiriha Secondary School border late Friday (June 16).

They burnt some victims beyond recognition; others were hacked to death. The attack which left resident terrorized is blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group.

The group rarely claims responsibility for attacks. It has established ties with the Islamic State group.

Atkins Godfrey Katusabe, a local MP, said people were "psychologically crippled and emotionally bleeding."

“The ADF is not interested in capturing power, because this is not Kampala. Power of the government of Uganda resides in Kampala, this is Kasese," the lawmaker said.

"Now I don’t know the leaders of the ADF so they are trying to look for the presidency, the president does not reside in Kasese, the president resides in Nakasero, and if you want the specific reference, plot 1, so you can’t come here and begin killing mercilessly our innocent citizens under an evil claim.”

Ugandan authorities believe at least six students were abducted by the Allied Democratic Forces fighters. 

A “criminal, desperate, terrorist and futile” attack

The ADF has been accused of launching many attacks in recent years targeting civilians in remote parts of eastern Congo, including one in March in which 19 people were killed.

The historic coalition of Ugandan rebels' biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to President Yoweri Museveni, a U.S. security ally who has held power in this East African country since 1986.

Established in eastern DRC in 1995, the ADF became the deadliest of scores of outlawed forces in the troubled region, where thousands of civilians have died.

In President Yoweri Museveni's first comment on the incident Sunday, he described the attack as “criminal, desperate, terrorist and futile".

Security forces stepped up patrols along the border with volatile eastern DR Congo.

In late 2021, Uganda and DR Congo armies launched an offensive against ADF rebels.

Uganda's deadliest attacked occured in 2010, when 76 people were killed in twin bombings in Kampala by the Somalia-based group Al-Shabaab.

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