3 who students were reportedly abducted on Friday by ADF have escaped from captivity

Three of the Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Secondary School students reportedly abducted on Friday by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have escaped from captivity, the military and local leaders confirmed yesterday.

Brig Felix Kulayigye, the UPDF and Defence spokesperson, said the ex-abductees are safely in the hands of the army.

“It’s true three students escaped from ADF rebels, they had crossed to DR Congo and this was because of much pressure mounted on them by UPDF soldiers,” he said, without offering details.

Unknown attackers that the government has alternately prescribed as ADF terrorists and hired hitmen, attacked Mpondwe-Lhubiriha SS on Friday, killing 37 out of its 63 students.

Six were injured and an unknown number, which the school head teacher Raimon Muhindo estimated at 16, taken captive.

It is three of these abductees that Kasese District leaders and the military separately confirmed to have escaped and returned to Uganda. Five residents were killed during the raid, bringing total fatality figure to 42.

News of the trio’s escape and return was met with jubilation and relief, but parents who have not heard about whereabouts of their loved ones tasked the security forces to ramp up a counter-offensive to rescue the missing students.

Mr Remegio Kule, a parent, said their hopes of finding their 15-year-old son, Surprise Yunasi, is fading after their DNA samples failed to match that of any of the bodies of students burnt beyond recognition.

Security officers have asked the family to await rescue of the youngsters in captivity. “I am surely confused and restless, and I wish I had found him in any state that day [of the attack],” Mr Kule said.

Mr Loti Masereka, the father of Brian Muhindo, 17, said “they told us to wait for the DNA results, which they said were to be ready by Monday June 19, but a day has passed [after the deadline] without hearing from them”.

“We lost three members in our family and only two of their bodies were found and we have peacefully laid them to rest, but we are still unstable because one is still missing,” he added. It is unclear if the missing children are alive or not.

Mr Wilson Mbabazi said people have been gathering at his home since the attack on Friday, waiting for information about the fate of his son, Joab Byamukama, who was in Senior One.

“ … we don’t know whether he is still alive or not,” he said, adding that they had not been informed of the outcome of the DNA test. The missing student’s grandfather, Mr Yowasi Museveni, said his grandson held a “promising” future.

“What we want from the government is to look for all the children who are missing, many parents are stranded and they don’t know what to do, it is the responsibility of the security [forces] to guard people and their properties,” he said.

One of Mr Moses Sunday’s children at the school survived in the attack, but a sibling named Amos Tumuhamye remains missing. He, like other parents, is still awaiting DNA results.

Mr Davis Tumusiime, who survived, said he was woken up from sleep by noise of his colleagues when the intruders broke in and starting the killings, but he somehow stealthily managed to walk out to safety.

Many parents preferred the school, which was established by a Canadian Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) headed by a one Peter Hunter, because the termly tuition, at Shs150,000, comparably the lowest in Kasese.

Mr Seleverio Bwambale said they have paused doing anything until the whereabouts of his son Edgar Athwanzire are known because “[in] our culture, when someone is missing, literally there is no work that we can engage in as a family”.

The family, he said, has to provide food for visitors checking in for news on whether their child is alive or dead, making the wait period costly.


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