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IMMINENT WARNING: REBELS KILL 41, ABDUCT 6 IN UGANDAN SCHOOL NEAR THE UGANDA-CONGO BORDER

June 17, 2023

Lydia Baccino, Benedetta Bisaccia, Arnold R. Koka, Extremism & AFRICOM Team

Álvaro Picón, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor


Kasese District, Highlighted in Red, Near the Uganda-Congo Border[1]


Event: On June 17, suspected rebels attacked Lubiri Secondary School in the frontier district of Kasese, Uganda, killing at least 41 people, including 38 children. Militants attacked with machetes and guns and abducted six students from their dormitories, which they set on fire during the large-scale attacks. A representative for Uganda's president, Joe Walusimbi, detailed how the victims "were burnt beyond recognition."[2] Ugandan authorities have blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) for the event, given their history of attacking from their bases in Eastern Congo. Mayor General Dick Olum stated that this attack is a typical ADF tactic to ease battlefront pressure from its enemies and signal its present relevance. Tensions from the neighboring region of Congo have worsened by the presence of Ugandan armed forces deployed in areas of Eastern Congo to help track militants in the region. The commander of the Ugandan troops in Congo stated that the militants were in Kasese two nights before the attack while other military officers tracked the attackers in Congo’s Virunga National Park.[3]


Significance: ADF militants will likely continue conducting incursions across the Ugandan-Congolese border in small cells to reduce the risks of being tracked down while maximizing ground mobility and operational flexibility. Rebels will very likely attack unprotected civil facilities, including schools, hospitals, and markets, to maximize fatalities, loot local supplies, and avoid direct clashes with Ugandan troops. The group will likely employ light commercial vehicles to move within Ugandan territory to blend in with the local population, very likely using semi- and fully-automatic assault rifles, and hand grenades, for their attacks. Rebels will likely mobilize cells beyond the border to conduct improvised explosive devices (IEDs) attacks on multiple pressure points on Ugandan security forces. The Ugandan army will very likely launch large artillery attacks against ADF rebels in Congo’s Virunga National Park to display a strong reaction to public opinion and maintain local population support.


Recommendations

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends that Ugandan troops maintain a strong presence on the border with neighboring Congo to deter any secondary attacks. The Ugandan troops should work closely with local law enforcement in patrols and investigations to help locate the abducted children.

  • CTG recommends the Ugandan army enhance its aerial capabilities with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to carry out consistent low-altitude reconnaissance operations along the border with Congo to track ADF’s cross-border movements. The Ugandan army should also launch long-range patrols around villages and local civil facilities, regularly changing surveillance patterns to increase chances of deterring or promptly disrupting militants’ attacks.

  • CTG recommends the Ugandan government provide schools, hospitals, and government facilities located near the Congolese border with countering mass shooting training material. The Ugandan government should provide employees of these facilities with information on first-aid medical responses, ensuring prompt assistance.

  • CTG recommends the Ugandan government seek increased collaboration with international partners, including neighboring countries, regional organizations, and international counterterrorism entities. This collaboration should involve information sharing, joint operations, and capacity-building initiatives to enhance Uganda's ability to address the ADF threat comprehensively.

  • If there is any additional and or critical information please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[1] Kasese District by Lydia Baccino via Google Maps

[2] Uganda school attack: Students among at least 41 killed, Sky News, June 2023, https://news.sky.com/story/uganda-school-attack-students-among-at-least-40-killed-12904188

[3] At least 41 killed in rebel attack on Ugandan school near Congo border, AP News, https://apnews.com/article/uganda-rebel-attack-students-killed-adf-799f6208d15b1b87e1c441b9d1b19b37

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