Suspected Islamic terrorists ambushed around 60 Ugandan students in their dormitories at a private high school near the Congo border on June 16, killing at least 37 of the students and five other people. The terrorists are believed to have also kidnapped six people, Ugandan officials said.
According to a local’s conversation with the BBC, the students had been singing Gospel songs—their nighttime routine at Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe, Kasese District—before suspected Allied Democratic Forces attacked them.
Based in the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, the militant group linked, to the Islamic State, allegedly shouted, “Allahu Akbar [Allah is greater]!” after maiming the girls with machetes and setting fire to the boys’ dormitory. The assailants shot the high schoolers who tried to run away during the approximate 90-minute invasion.
Surviving student Edgard Mumbere recalled to Morning Star News how the attackers attempted to get the boys to open their dormitory door. Mumbere heard one militant say, “This school is propagating Christianity in Uganda and getting support from Christians in the West—Islam should be the dominant religion in Uganda.”
After realizing the assailants were armed with machetes, axes and guns, the students hid under their beds.
“They threw a bomb on our dormitory, and the whole room was full of smoke, and we couldn’t breathe,” Mumbere continued. “Some of us managed to get out of the dormitory but were shot and managed to survive bad injuries.”
Mumbere survived by pretending to be dead after smearing blood all over his face and body.
Unfortunately, many of his classmates—most of whom were Christians—did not make it through the massacre. Several of the victims were kin to one another, including a 47-year-old security guard who was the father of a 17-year-old student and a missing 15-year-old student. It is unknown whether the 15-year-old was among the unidentifiable of those lost in the fire or was kidnapped.
According to a Morning Star News contact, many of the victims attended nearby churches, such as Church of Uganda, Crossway Church and Independent Baptist Church. Other local Christians are reportedly stunned by the assault and fearful of more attacks. Their nation is currently ranked as the 69th most dangerous for Christians on the Open Doors World Watch List.
While neither the Allied Democratic Forces nor Islamic State have accepted responsibility for the massacre, authorities say the assailants were a splinter group of the Allied group. As a result, President Museveni has promised to send additional troops to the Rwenzori Mountains, which sit on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The alpine troops’ presence normally keeps the East African nation from such attacks.
On his Facebook page, Franklin Graham recently posted a reminder of comfort for those facing persecution.
“Jesus said, ‘If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me’” (John 15:18-21).
Please pray for the Ugandan families grieving the loss of their loved ones, the surviving students’ recovery and for local Christians to be bold in their faith.