President Museveni has broken his silence on the Friday night attack by ADF rebels on Lhubirira Secondary School in the western border town of Mpondwe killing over 40 students and abducting scores.
In a statement on Sunday afternoon, the president described the attack as cowardly by the rebel group which has also been designated as a terrorist outfit by the United States.
“Why not attack the detachment that was only 3 kms away? If they did that, they would be fighters – army to army – the way NRA was and they would not be terrorists,” Museveni said.
The president explained that following air and artillery strikes as well as offensives by the infantry UPDF and FADRC armies inside the DRC jungles, the ADF have ran into disarray and are now in smaller groups.
He mentioned the huge area West of the Rwenzori, where the terrorists have run away to beyond the Beni- Eringeti- Komanda-Bunya Road and that they can no longer concentrate in big groups.
“ It is safer for them to splinter into small groups which, they hope, may not be seen by our eyes. That is 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 the 13th of December, 2022, when 51 of them entered Ntoroko with the same plan like the one of Nyabugaando yester-night-kill people etc,”he said.
Museveni said the Ugandan army had , initially, concentrated on the bigger groups, West of the Rwenzori and that after defeating them, recently, they started hunting the smaller group, South of the Rwenzori Mountain, South of the Kasindi-Beni Road, in the Mwalika Valley, around Biruunga National Park in Congo, Opposite Lake Edward (Rutshuru, Butuumbi).
“One ad a half months ago, Mulaalo, Commander of that group was killed. Earlier in April, Rubaanga, quartermaster of one of the groups, was also killed. Hence, the desperate, cowardly, terrorist act of attacking a school.”
Museveni however said the attack wouldn’t have succeeded if there was vigilance and alertness by the people around Mpondwe as it was in Ntoroko when the same group tried to attack.
The president said Uganda is going to send more troops into the area South of the Rwenzori Mountain and eliminate any gaps.
He however raised some questions that have not been answered in regards the Friday night attack in Kasese.
“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.? Anyway, our forces are not going to be pulled back from the Mwalika Valley where they are hunting the Arab, Abua-Kasi, who replaced the killed Mulaalo and hunting Amigo.”
“ Their action, the desperate, cowardly, terrorist action, therefore, will not save them. We are bringing new forces to the Uganda side as we continue the hunting on the Congo side.”