Grieving families in Uganda have been burying students killed in the massacre at Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School, which lies close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Twenty-one of those who died have been laid to rest in church ceremonies.
According to a report on BBC News, the rebel group ADF-NALU (Allied Democratic Forces – National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) staged the gruesome killings as the children sang their evening prayers. A witness told the BBC she heard the pupils singing Gospel songs before the Islamists attacked.
Thirty-eight students, a school security officer and three others died in the attack, and six pupils were kidnapped.
The Islamists entered the boarding school and started setting fire to dormitories. Some pupils died in the fire while others were killed by machete blows.
According to Catholic persecution charity, Aid to the Church in Need, the incident comes weeks after bishops warned that militant attacks in central Africa were spiralling out of control. They say the Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Bukavu, DRC gave the warning at the end of May, highlighting the suffering caused by extremist groups.
The bishops said: “Pastoral work is being disrupted by the activity of ADF-NALU and other armed groups which are cruelly massacring peaceful citizens, even close to the positions of the security forces which are supposed to be protecting them.”
The statement highlighted the worsening security situation in the region – which has left almost a quarter of a million people in displacement camps – and called on the government to address it.
The bishops said: “The result is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis – famine, disease, death.”
According to the bishops, armed militias have captured key territories and are exploiting valuable resources. The affected areas are rich in natural resources such as coltan, a mineral used in the manufacturing of mobile phones, electric cars and other electronic devices.
The bishops said: “Misery has taken up residence everywhere in a country that is potentially very rich… but with a truly miserable people.”
The militants are widely reported to have pledged allegiance to the Islamist group Daesh (Islamic State).