Prior to a deadly attack by Islamist extremists in Uganda on Friday, students were singing gospel hymns, according to a woman who lives across the street from the school.
Screaming followed, Mary Masika told the BBC. A horrific attack in Mpondwe claimed the lives of nearly 40 individuals.
The attack has been attributed to militants with ties to the Islamic State.
In the 1990s, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) were established, and they started fighting President Yoweri Museveni on the grounds that Muslims were being persecuted.
They currently have a substantial presence in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Friday attack on the Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School occurred close to the border.
Ms. Masika claims that the onslaught, which lasted roughly 90 minutes, left her and other locals afraid.
She told the BBC in Swahili that she had not been able to eat or sleep since then.
She and her daughter initially believed the ruckus that interrupted the kids’ songs at around 22:00 (20:00 GMT) showed that they were having some fun, as is customary for the students to sing before going to bed.
But it soon became apparent that there was a terrible situation going on at the school, where about 60 boarders were living in a small complex.
ADF rebels had broken into dorms, burned them on fire, and used machetes to mutilate and kill students.
The funerals for a father and son slain in the attack—47-year-old security officer Elphanas Mbusa and 17-year-old Masereka Elton—were hosted by one family in Mpondwe on Sunday.
Brian Muhindo, their other son, who was a student at the same school and was 15 years old, is missing. They are unsure if he is one of the six youngsters that were abducted or if his body is among those whose identities cannot be determined due to severe burns.
Hurubana Kimadi Onesmus told the BBC that he was baffled as to how the attackers gained access to the school where his son, a security guard, worked and where his grandkids were enrolled.
The 69-year-old stated, “There is a very strong military presence in the neighborhood.
The school is now well guarded, and the BBC team had only a short window of time to snap some pictures of the destroyed structures.
It was a tragic and distressing scene.
Outside the girls’ dormitory, there is still a lot of dried blood on the ground from when they were shot dead as they fled after being attacked with machetes.
The lads’ dorm was closed; either they had been forced inside by the rebels or they had refused to open it to them. The building was doused in fuel before being set on fire by the militants.
The smell of death permeates the interior, where beds have been reduced to wire mesh with bits of attached flesh.
Ms. Masika claimed that near the end of the assault, at or around 23:30, she overheard one of the attackers asking another combatant if “the job was done” while talking at her gate.
They were speaking in Swahili, which is widely used in the area, and then started yelling “Allahu Akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is greatest.”
One of them continued, “We have succeeded in destabilizing Museveni’s country,” she declared after these chants.
The Rwenzori Mountains, which lie on the border between Uganda and the DR Congo, are where President Museveni promised to send more troops in response, claiming that “their action… the desperate, cowardly, terrorist action… will not save them.”
Christians and Muslims appear to coexist in the area surrounding Mpondwe. Some of the mourners who attended the funerals on Sunday wore traditional Muslim garb.
In villages all around the area, funerals for the students slain in the attack were also held, with most residents shocked and saddened by the severity of the attack.
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