At least 40 killed in rebel attack on Ugandan school

A Ugandan People's Defense Force truck seen outside an attacked school.
(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

At least 40 people, mostly students, were killed during an attack on a Ugandan school by rebel forces linked to ISIS, officials said Saturday. The attack marked one of the deadliest terrorist incidents in the country's history.

The incident began when about 20 rebel soldiers from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the Lhubirira secondary school in Mpondwe, a town near the Uganda border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ADF, described by the Congressional Research Service as an "Islamic State affiliate," began attacking teachers and students who were inside the school's dormitories, officials said.

Many of the bodies recovered were found burned to death after ADF soldiers set the dormitories on fire, according to a statement from Ugandan military spokesman Felix Kulayigye. Some of the students were also hacked to death by the ADF with machetes, Kulayigye told CNN.

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Of the deceased, 39 were students and two were local community members. Kulayigye told CNN there had been 62 people inside the school complex when the attack commenced. Another six people were also abducted and are currently being searched for, officials added.

The violence was widely condemned both domestically and internationally, with Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine tweeting his hope "that investigations can begin in earnest so that the perpetrators of this crime face justice."

The attack marks the latest in the continuing conflict between the ADF and a joint Ugandan-Congolese operation to eliminate them. The two governments have provided few details on the operation, though they have claimed to have weakened the ADF via airstrikes. Regional observers, though, told The New York Times they were doubtful the attacks have put much of a dent in the ADF, saying that the organization has "continued to wreak havoc in eastern Congo...where rebel groups have overseen a wave of massacres and widespread destruction for decades."

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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.