Ugandan police say at least 25 people have been killed in a suspected rebel attack on a school near the Congo border.
Police said in a statement Saturday that the Allied Democratic Forces carried out the attack late Friday night on a school in the border town of Mpondwe.
Lhubiriha Secondary School, which is privately owned, is located about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Congo border.
“A dormitory was burnt and a food store looted. So far 25 bodies have been recovered from the school and transferred to Bwera Hospital,” the statement said, adding that eight others are in critical condition.
The statement said Ugandan government troops tracked the attackers into Congolese territory.
It was not immediately clear if all of the victims were students.
The local Daily Monitor newspaper, citing unnamed security sources, reported that the attackers “abducted several” others before fleeing. Winnie Kiiza, an influential political leader, condemned the “cowardly attack” on Twitter.
Kiiza, a former lawmaker from the region wrote, “attacks on schools are unacceptable and are a grave violation of children's rights," adding that schools should always be “a safe place" for every student.”
The Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, is accused of launching many attacks on civilians in recent years, notably on civilian communities in remote parts of eastern Congo.
The ADF has long opposed the rule of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, a U.S. security ally who has been in power since 1986.
Established in the early 1990s in Uganda, the ADF later was forced to flee into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to operate because Congo's central government has limited control there.
The ADF has ties with the Islamic State group.
Ugandan authorities for years have vowed to hunt down the ADF's fighters at home and abroad.
In 2021, Uganda launched joint air and artillery strikes in Congo against ADF rebels — against the ADF.