Uganda opposition urges govt to bring troops home after attackWed, 21 Jun 2023 14:52:47 GMT

Uganda’s opposition on Wednesday urged the government to withdraw its troops from foreign countries and strengthen domestic security after militants killed dozens of students in the country’s west last week.Authorities said the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, crossed the border and massacred 42 people, including 37 students, in a gruesome attack on a school.The horrific assault has left Ugandans shell-shocked and raised questions about how a group blamed for past bombings in the East African country managed to plan and execute the attack without drawing attention.On Wednesday, opposition lawmaker Abdallah Kiwanuka said Uganda’s troop commitments overseas — including in Somalia under an African Union force fighting Islamists — had “overstretched” the country’s security capabilities.”Uganda’s troop deployments in foreign territories has overstretched the capacity of our troops and given room to the ADF to carry out attacks in the country,” said Kiwanuka, the shadow cabinet minister for internal affairs.”We are putting pressure on (the) government to bring the forces home and we strengthen our domestic security,” he told AFP.Police have arrested 21 people in connection with the June 16 attack, including the head teacher and director of Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe where students were shot, hacked and burned to death.The latest arrest on Tuesday night involved a male shop attendant who claimed to be a member of ADF in a viral TikTok video.”The suspect identified as Kalenzi Resto, 25 years (old), claimed in a viral TikTok video to have taken part in the recent attack at Lhubiriha,” said police spokesman Fred Enanga.”The investigations are currently under way,” he added. – ‘Long, painful wait’ -As families wait for the outcome of DNA tests to identify victims burned beyond recognition, questions are mounting over how the attackers managed to evade detection in a region with a heavy military presence.Authorities have launched a search for the militants, who also abducted several students and fled towards the porous border between Uganda and the DRC.Families told AFP they were anxious to know the fate of their loved ones.”We don’t know whether my brother’s son is among those burnt to ashes or among those abducted but the police took my (DNA) samples for comparison and maybe in a few days we will get the results,” said driver Roti Masereka.”It has been a long wait and painful as we can’t do much,” he told AFP.Originally made up of mainly Muslim Ugandan rebels, the ADF gained a foothold in eastern DRC in the 1990s.Uganda and the DRC launched a joint offensive in 2021 to drive the ADF out of their Congolese strongholds but the measures have failed to blunt the group’s violence.Since 2019, some ADF attacks in the DRC have been claimed by the Islamic State group, which calls the fighters the Islamic State Central Africa Province.