The death toll from the suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel attack on Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Secondary School in Kasese district has risen to 42. Among the victims are 37 students and five non-students, including a school security guard.
The assailants specifically targeted female students, using hammers to kill 20 of them, while 17 male students fell victim to machetes and bullets.
The attackers then set fire to the student dormitory, resulting in the incineration of several bodies, rendering them unidentifiable.
Four students who sustained injuries during the attack were admitted to Bwera General Hospital while one required advanced medical care and was transferred to Kiruddu Hospital, in Kampala.
Although the school administration reported that 62 learners were present during the attack, independent verification proved impossible due to the destruction of all registers in the flames set by the attackers in the administration building. The rebels are suspected to have also abducted 25 other students.
Efforts are underway by the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) to pursue the suspects, who reportedly fled across the border into the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Join local operations are currently being conducted in border areas to apprehend the assailants.
Lt. Joe Walusimbi, the Kasese Resident District Commissioner, has directed local council chairpersons to maintain records of all visitors in their respective areas and to remain vigilant.
He cautioned against linking the attack to the recent release of Charles Wesley Mumbere, the leader of the Obusinag Bwa Rwenzururu, and his royal guards. He emphasized the importance of disregarding any attempts by political leaders to draw connections between the attack and these recent events.
Meanwhile, Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Secondary School has been closed indefinitely following the devastating attack. John Chrysostom Muyingo, the state Minister for Higher Education announced the temporary closure, stating that thorough investigations into the incident must be conducted before the school can resume operations.
Security authorities attribute the attack to the porous border points, which allow the assailants to infiltrate the region.