By Insight Post Uganda
In the aftermath of a horrifying incident, the tranquil setting of Lhubirira Secondary School, in Mpondwe town council, has been shattered.
The echoes of an overnight attack orchestrated by the notorious Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels continue to haunt the ill-fated community.
As the sun rises, the grim reality unveils itself, with the recovery of 25 lifeless bodies from the school premises. Alongside this tragedy, a dormitory lies in ruins, consumed by flames, and a food store is completely looted.
Lately, the Resident District Commissioner of Kasese, Lt. Joe Walusimbi says that the two bodies were discovered by residents and have been taken to Bwera General Hospital.
The unidentified bodies are of an old woman and a boy. Walusimbi says that they are yet to ascertain the identities of the deceased.
Situated merely 2 kilometres away from the Uganda-DRC border, Lhubirira Secondary School now stands as a stark reminder of the relentless violence that can permeate even the most serene environments.
The local authorities have been swift to respond, as the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and the Police embark on a relentless pursuit towards the nearby Virunga National Park, according to Police spokesperson-Fred Enanga.
Their objective is to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice and restore a sense of security to the area. Their objective is to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice and restore a sense of security to the area.
During this dark hour, the heartfelt condolences of the Police are extended to the grieving families who have lost their loved ones.
Additionally, prayers and thoughts are offered to the eight victims who remain in critical condition and are currently receiving urgent medical care at Bwera Hospital. The community stands united in solidarity, vowing to support those affected by this senseless act of violence.
While the police initially reported the recovery of 25 deceased bodies from the school, the area LC3 chairperson, Mapooze Selevesta, contradicts this figure, stating that the toll has risen to over 45.
According to Selevesta, an additional 17 losing their lives due to a bomb detonation as the rebels departed. However, the exact number of individuals abducted by the rebels remains uncertain and is yet to be determined.
Previous ADF Attacks
The recent attack at Lhubirira Secondary School is not an isolated incident. The ADF rebels have a history of instigating violence and causing devastation. On several occasions, they have crossed from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into Uganda, leaving destruction in their wake.
In December 2022, a group of approximately 40 ADF rebels sneaked into Uganda through River Semuliki in Ntoroko district. However, their intentions were swiftly met with resistance by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces.
The civilian population in Bweramule sub-county played a crucial role in alerting security forces, leading to a prompt response that resulted in the death of 17 rebels and the capture of 13 others.
The recovery of 15 guns, two walkie-talkies, and improvised explosive devices highlighted the severity of the threat posed by the ADF.
The ADF’s reign of terror is not confined to Uganda alone. In April 2023, they targeted a village near Enebula in eastern DRC, claiming the lives of 20 innocent people.
Additionally, in January 2023, an attack attributed to the ADF rocked eastern DR Congo, as a bomb detonated inside a church, killing at least 10 individuals and leaving 39 others wounded.
These acts of violence demonstrate the ADF’s capacity for inflicting harm across borders and their disregard for human life.
Origin and Tactics of the ADF
The ADF gained prominence in the 1990s when it established a foothold in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after being driven out of Uganda.
Since then, they have been implicated in the deaths of thousands of civilians, earning the reputation as one of the deadliest outlawed forces in the troubled region.
In recent years, some ADF attacks in eastern DRC have been claimed by the Islamic State, which considers the ADF its local offshoot under the name Islamic State Central Africa Province.
The United States recognized the gravity of the ADF’s threat and designated them a “foreign terrorist organization” with links to the Islamic State group. The ADF operates primarily in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in the DRC, spreading fear and insecurity among the local population.
Despite ongoing Operation Shujaa, a joint military operations by Congolese and Ugandan forces targeting the ADF, the group continues to adapt its tactics.
Their choice of more visible and lethal bomb attacks in urban areas has raised concerns about the safety of communities and the need for a comprehensive response to neutralize this evolving threat.
International Support/Ongoing Challenges
Efforts to counter the ADF’s activities have received international support. The United States government reiterated its commitment to regional security and the elimination of the ADF threat.
US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown, highlighted the importance of collaborative regional efforts to combat the ADF and other rebel groups based in eastern DRC.
By addressing this security challenge, the aim is to alleviate human suffering and create an environment conducive to economic development in East and Central Africa.
However, the ADF’s resilience and ability to adapt pose ongoing challenges. Despite military operations and international recognition of the threat they pose, the ADF continues to expand its reach and carry out deadly attacks.
The UN Security Council’s report underscores the urgent need for sustained efforts to dismantle the ADF’s infrastructure and neutralize its capacity for violence.
The support and cooperation of regional actors, combined with international assistance, are crucial in addressing this complex security issue and protecting vulnerable communities.
In the face of these challenges, the affected communities and their resilience remain a beacon of hope. The people affected by ADF violence deserve peace, security, and justice.
Their determination to rebuild, supported by regional and international allies, will be instrumental in overcoming the ADF’s threat and fostering a safer future