Islamic militants called the “Allied Democratic Front”, a rebel group of Uganda now based in Congo, a group with links to ISIS, raided the Lhubirira Secondary School in Mpondwe, a town near the border between Uganda and Congo. The school was a boarding school. The attackers bombed the dormitories, locked the doors, and set it ablaze, killing 17 male students, burning some of them beyond recognition (ref. 1). The attackers also hack to death with machetes 20 female students (ref. 1). A security guard and 3 locals who were in the vicinity were also killed (ref. 1). The militants then kidnapped 6 students, compelling them to carry food and other supplies for the rebels from the school’s stores (ref. 1). They then returned across the border.
In 1998, a similar attack on Kichwamba Technical Institute near the border of Congo by the same group saw some 80 students burnt to death in their dormitories, and more than 100 abducted (ref. 2).
The Allied Democratic Front is an armed group of Ugandan Muslims that rebelled against the government of Uganda in the early 1990s. It is thought that Muslims make up some 14% of the population of Uganda (ref. 2). In 2001, the Ugandan army defeated the group and forced them to relocate in the jungles of the Congo. The Congolese army also went after them but the group was never eradicated.
In 2016, the group’s leader pledged allegiance to ISIS. And in 2019, ISIS started to claim responsibility for the group’s atrocities.
In 2021, during a joint Ugandan and Congolese operation in Congo’s North Kivu province, Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga of the Ugandan army stated his determination to “destroy” the Islamic rebels “once and for all” (ref. 3).
Needless to say, that operation did not completely succeed, because today the jihad of the Allied Democratic Front carries on.
Still, the general’s thinking was correct. It is always more cost effective to destroy the enemy’s strongholds than to protect an entire border. It is always simpler to concentrate force against a position than to defend an entire line.
1. Katherine Lawton (18 June 2023), “Grief-stricken parents visit mortuary after ISIS killers massacred their children in Uganda school: Militants slaughtered 42 including 38 pupils and kidnapped six others in sickening attack”, dailymail.co.uk
2. Patience Atuhaire and James Gregory (19 June 2023), “Uganda school attack: Dozens of pupils killed by militants linked to Islamic State group”, bbc.com
3. Xinhua (10 December 2021), “Interview: We will destroy ADF rebels once and for all: Ugandan commander”, news.cn