West News Wire: According to the mayor of the town and local media, the death toll from a horrific attack on a school in western Uganda’s Mpondwe town has increased to at least 40, with an undetermined number of people also missing.
Selevest Mapoze, the mayor of Mpondwe-Lhubiriha, said to The Associated Press on Saturday that the victims comprised the children, one security officer, and two local residents who were killed outside the school.
Mapoze claimed that while some of the students died from the burns they sustained when the rebels set fire to a dormitory, other students were killed by gunfire or machete attacks. Police, however, did not go into detail about the attack’s nature or how the victims passed away.
Army spokesman Felix Kulayigye placed the death toll at 37. Eight people were injured and six others kidnapped, he said.
Police earlier blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan group based in eastern DRC that has pledged allegiance to the ISIL (ISIS) group, for the attack. They said earlier that 25 bodies were recovered and eight victims, who remained in critical conditions, were transferred to Bwera Hospital.
According to Fred Enanga, spokesman for the national police, “a dormitory was burned and a food store looted” in the attack on the privately run school in the Ugandan region of Kasese, close to the border with the DRC.
The attackers fled in the direction of Virunga National Park over the border into the DRC, but Enanga claimed that the army and police troops were “hot pursuit” of them.
People there are extremely anxious, filled with fear, and unsure of what will happen next, she said.
The military confirmed in a statement that Ugandan troops inside the DRC “are pursuing the enemy to rescue those abducted.”
The ADF, which the United States has deemed a “terrorist” group, is considered the deadliest of dozens of armed militias that roam mineral-rich eastern DRC. In March this year, the United States announced a reward of up to $5m for information leading to the capture of the ADF’s leader.