By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK, 19 June 2023 (IDN) — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is struggling to defend his security forces that failed to block an attack on a secondary school where some 39 students were brutally murdered and others were abducted.
Museveni, who is also the commander in chief of armed forces, ordered the chief of defense forces to rush to Kasese district after the surprise attack by a known rebel group that escaped to the Democratic Republic of Congo across the border.
In November last year, Museveni praised his troops saying they had obliterated all threats by the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces), described as an Islamist militant group, to carry out attacks on Uganda.
The Friday night (16 June) attack in Kasese comes days after U.S. citizens were warned against visiting or living in Uganda. There was also warning of imminent terror attacks.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Henry Okello Oryem, reportedly laughed off the US travel warnings, saying Uganda had the capacity to deal with any security threat.
The horrific attack on the secondary school recalled terror attacks in Kampala in 2021 when the UK issued a warning for its citizens, but Ugandan security said they were more than ready to counter insecurity incidents.
The assailants reportedly burned the school’s library, plundered a food store and kidnapped six students to carry the stolen loot.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) condemned the attack on the Mpondwe Lhubiriha school that took place on June 16 – coincidentally celebrated as the Day of the African Child. “We stand in solidarity with the students, the teaching staff, the school authorities, families of those impacted and the people of Uganda in this sad moment,” said Munir Safieldin, Unicef’s representative to Uganda.
“Schools are a safe place for all learners and must never be attacked.”
Friday’s attack, said Richard Moncrieff of the International Crisis Group, said that despite nearly two years of concentrated joint operations against the group, it still has significant capacity. “This attack shows that a wider strategy is needed than purely military.
President Museveni reportedly receives billions of dollars in development and military assistance from Western countries, including the UN.
Gun violence has become a national topic of discussion, say Ugandan reporters with The Observer, despite the focus by the President’s office on the LGBTQ community which is under attack.
Last month, 54 Ugandan soldiers were killed and scores injured when al-Shabaab militants attacked their base in Somalia. Surviving soldiers said their troops mistook al-Shabaab militants for Somali farmers.
Museveni’s critics have been detained and in some cases tortured as reportedly occurred in the case of Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, author of “Greedy Barbarian”, a children’s book, and activist Stella Nyanzi, under the Computer Misuse Act which prohibited the use of electronic communication to “disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication.”
Both critics are said to be in exile at this time. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Mourners gather for a funeral for two victims of the attack on Ugandan school that occurred on June 16, 2023. Stuart Tibaweswa/AFP Source: Business Insider Africa.
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