The president in his Sunday statement said Ugandan troops will not be pulled back from the Mwalika Valley where they are hunting “the Arab, Abua-Kasi, who replaced the killed Mulaaalo and hunting Amigo.”
Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have stepped up their deployment along the Uganda-DR Congo border following the Friday night school attack that left at least 37 students killed, according to President Museveni.
The 11pm raid on Lhubiriha Secondary School in Kasese District in western Uganda by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels based in eastern DRC also left a guard and three other community members dead.
According to Mr Museveni, the ADF, one of the fiercest rebel groups operating in eastern DRC, have become desperate and cowardly due to pressure exerted by both the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the DR Congo national army following a joint operation launched in November 2021.
“As a consequence of the eyes in the sky and long distance deadly fire, followed by infantry troops on ground, two things have happened. In the huge area west of the Rwenzori, the terrorists can no longer concentrate in the big groups. It is safer for them to splinter into small groups, they hope, may not be seen by our eyes. That’s how their desperate, futile, criminal and terrorist schemes, come in. They start imagining that if they flee Congo, re-enter Uganda, kill people that are not armed (soft targets), that action, would force us to recall our army from Congo to defend the Uganda villages and that would save them from the losses they are now suffering. That is what they tried on December 13, 2022, when 51 of them entered Ntoroko with the same plan like the one of Nyabugaando yesterday (June 16) night-kill people etc,” President Museveni said.
Mr Museveni, in the statement posted on his twitter handle, however, wondered why Ugandan troops in eastern DR Congo failed to detect the ADF’s entry into Uganda.
“We are now sending more troops into the area south of the Rwenzori Mountain and eliminate any gaps. Was an alarm sounded and by whom? How did the nearby security people respond? Why didn’t our people on the Congo side have intelligence on this splinter group etc?” Mr Museveni wondered.
The UPDF commander of mountain division, Maj Gen Dick Olum, said the suspected rebels spent two nights in Kasese before the raid that also left unconfirmed number of students abducted.
“We have got information that the rebels spent two nights here before they raided the school. We have sent for choppers to be deployed in our search and rescue operation for the students who were abducted,” Maj Gen Olum who doubles as commander operation Shujaa in DR Congo said on Saturday as he addressed curious locals who had gathered outside the school to get more details of what had happened.
However, the president in his Sunday statement said Ugandan troops will not be pulled back from the Mwalika Valley where they are hunting “the Arab, Abua-Kasi, who replaced the killed Mulaaalo and hunting Amigo.”
According to him, the desperate, cowardly, terrorist’s action will not save them.
“We are bringing new forces to Uganda side as we continue the hunting on the Congo side,” said Mr Museveni who has ruled Uganda since 1986.
This is not the first time gunmen have attacked schools in the area. On June 8, 1998, suspected ADF rebels attacked Kichwamba Technical Institute where they killed 80 students, left others injured and several abducted.
Security agencies in the Rwenzori Sub-region were said to be high alert early this week after the rebel group renewed attacks close to the Ugandan border.
Last Sunday night, ADF rebels attacked Domena Village in Kasindi, which is a few kilometres from Uganda’s border town of Mpondwe, killing several people.
At least 133 Congolese, including women and children, were forced to flee into Uganda and camped at Kabuyiri Catholic Church.
However, most of them later returned to their country after the situation normalised, while others stayed with their relatives on the Ugandan side of the border.
In November 2021, Ugandan and Congolese troops launched a joint offensive against the ADF but more than a year later, the operation’s effectiveness remains unclear.
The ADF, the deadliest militia in eastern DRC, was historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to President Museveni who ascended to power in 1986 following a five-year guerilla warfare.