Massacre in a Ugandan school: at least 37 dead in an attack by a terrorist group linked to the Islamic State.

Police reported that the attack took place in the town of Mpondwe, about two kilometers from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. All the victims are students.

At least 37 people were killed in an attack on a school in western Uganda perpetrated by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group linked to the extremist Islamic State (IS), Ugandan police said Saturday.

“Unfortunately, 37 bodies have been discovered and taken to the hospital morgue in (the town of) Bwera,” Army spokesman Brigadier General Felix Kulayigye said in a statement.

Asked by EFE if all these victims are students, the spokesman replied by telephone with a terse “yes”, without giving further explanation.

The “terrorist attack” occurred at the Lhubirira school in the town of Mpondwe, about two kilometers from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the police said in a statement posted on its Twitter account.

The local Daily Monitor newspaper reported, citing unnamed security sources, that the assailants “abducted several” before fleeing. Winnie Kiiza, an influential political leader, condemned the “cowardly attack” on Twitter.

Police also said that, together with the Ugandan Army, they launched an “intense pursuit” of the attackers into the Congolese Virunga national park.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the families of those who have been killed, and offer our prayers and thoughts to those who have been injured. Further details will be provided in due course,” the statement added.

The Allied Democratic Forces are a rebel group of Ugandan origin, but are currently based in the Congolese provinces of North Kivu and neighboring Ituri, near the border the DRC shares with Uganda.

Their objectives are diffuse beyond a possible link with the Islamic State (IS), which sometimes claims responsibility for their attacks.

Although UN Security Council experts found no evidence of direct ISIS support for the ADF, the United States has identified them since March 2021 as a “terrorist organization” affiliated with the jihadist group.

According to the Kivu Security Barometer (KST), the ADF is responsible for at least 3,850 deaths in 730 attacks perpetrated in the DRC since 2017.

In addition, Ugandan authorities have accused the group of organizing attacks within its territory, including two suicide bombings in Kampala in November 2021 and assassinations by armed motorists against senior officials.

To put an end to the ADF, the armies of the DRC and Uganda began in November 2021 a joint military operation on Congolese soil that is still ongoing, although rebel attacks have not ceased.

Since 1998, eastern DRC has been mired in conflict fueled by rebel militias and the army, despite the presence of the UN mission in the DRC (Monusco), with some 16,000 uniformed personnel on the ground.

The ADF opposes the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a U.S. security ally in power since 1986.

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