Ten killed in suspected ADF rebels attack in western Uganda

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Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) troops. (Photo by Sébastien KITSA MUSAYI / AFP)

Kamwenge, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In a devastating incident, Kyabandara parish in Kamwenge sub-county has witnessed a brutal attack that claimed the lives of ten individuals, including a local leader during an assault believed to be carried out by suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels affiliated with a group aligned with the Islamic State.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), known for its connections to IS, originated as an anti-Kampala rebel faction in the mid-1990s. Initially operating from bases in the Rwenzori mountains, the group contested the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

The assailants, armed with SMG rifles, descended upon Kyitehurizi trading center, Kyabandara parish in Kamwenge district in Western Uganda at about 10pm, leaving behind a trail of devastation.

In the tragic aftermath of the brutal attack suspected to have been carried out by the ADF rebels in Kyabandara parish, Kamwenge sub-county, the victims of this heinous act include Banyazaki Margaret, a 60-year-old resident, and Tugume, a 25-year-old whose identity stands as the sole lead among the deceased. The impact of the assault is further intensified by the loss of a local female councilor, known only by her nickname, Night, as recounted by locals.

Night met her unfortunate end in a small roadside restaurant she operated, where she was found alongside four clients who had just sat down for a meal when the attackers struck. This grim detail underscores the brutality and senselessness of the violence that unfolded in the community.

Confirming the incident, lawmaker Cuthbert Abigaba reported the tragedy to the Kampala Dispatch, emphasizing the magnitude of the unfolding disaster in Kyabandara parish. The combination of these personal stories paints a harrowing picture of the human toll exacted by the assailants, leaving a community grappling with the profound impact of the loss.

“After the killing, they burnt the restaurant and also proceeded and looted items from nearby shops before fleeing,” Abigaba said.

The deputy spokesperson for Uganda’s military the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), Deo Akiiki, confirmed the attack and said they would give details later.

Preliminary findings from the Kamwenge Territorial Police paint a grim picture of the incident. Ten assailants executed a brutal assault, resulting in the fatal burning of ten innocent lives. The village, situated near the serene Kibale National Park, now grapples with the aftermath of this heinous crime.

The attackers didn’t stop at taking lives; they proceeded to wreak havoc on the community, breaking into the store of 35-year-old Baguma Richard. In a spree of looting, the assailants made off with 300 kgs of beans, a sack of Irish potatoes, 03 trays of eggs, and 50 kgs of maize, leaving behind a scene of desolation.

Adding to the devastation, a motorcycle bearing registration number UFC 851T was set ablaze, adding to the challenges faced by the already grieving community. The extent of the tragedy prompted an immediate response from law enforcement.

The suspected ADF rebels set ablaze a motorcycle Reg No. UFC 851T in the attack.

Upon receiving the distressing information, officers swiftly mobilized, deploying canine units alongside personnel from the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF). The joint effort initiated a manhunt to bring the perpetrators to justice, with the focus on tracking their movements toward the nearby Kibale National Park.

A coordinated effort by Joint Security Agencies is currently underway as the investigation progresses. The community of Kyitehurizi, shaken by the events of that fateful morning, awaits answers and justice for the lives lost. The coming days will reveal the outcome of the intensive probe, and further updates will be provided to shed light on the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident.

In the aftermath of the Kamwenge incident, occurring just days following President Yoweri Museveni’s declaration on December 13, the situation sheds light on recent airstrikes conducted by Uganda in September within the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The president asserted that these airstrikes resulted in the elimination of at least 200 rebels associated with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who were aligned with the Islamic State organization.

Also Read: Two ADF rebels killed, commander captured in UPDF operation

Originating as predominantly Muslim rebels from Uganda, the ADF has been engaged in conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since the mid-1990s, causing significant casualties. Their allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2019 has led to the latter claiming some of their activities and designating them as its “Central African Province” affiliate.

President Museveni shared the information on X, formerly Twitter, stating, “We have been carrying out air attacks on the terrorists in Congo,” and later confirming that approximately “200 of them were killed” during the strikes executed on September 16.

President Museveni leader further mentioned that multiple strikes have taken place since then, though specific details were not provided. This development underscores the ongoing efforts to address security concerns in the region.