In a shocking revelation during a Parliamentary session, Members of Parliament (MPs) disclosed that military and police units stationed near the scene of a terrorist attack in Kasese were aware of the incident but failed to respond promptly.
The House resonated with outrage as MPs recounted how security forces neglected distress calls from Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Secondary School and its surroundings.
Defence Minister Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja initially claimed that security forces responded within 30 minutes when the “weak ADF” militants attacked the school.
However, legislators from Kasese refuted this claim, stunning their colleagues with accounts of soldiers arriving more than an hour after the attack had ended, leaving the suspected ADF terrorists long gone.
During that hour, the terrorists brutally murdered 37 students, shot the school watchman, set ablaze two dormitories with terrified students trapped inside, and mercilessly killed four residents.
Speaker Anita Among dismissed the Defence minister, demanding a comprehensive statement that details the government’s response, updates on the captured individuals, and information about the deceased and injured. She also urged the government to cover all hospital expenses.
The Defence minister faced further scrutiny as Ms Florence Kabugho, the Kasese Woman MP, exposed the security failures. She revealed that the terrorists spent over an hour ruthlessly slaughtering students before venturing into a neighboring trading center.
Shockingly, soldiers remained stationed in their detachment approximately a kilometer away, while nearby police officers reportedly turned away a witness seeking help.
Despite one student, Nkato, managing to escape and alerting a police station just 800 meters from the school, the police failed to respond.
Survivors have shared harrowing accounts indicating that the attackers even checked if their victims were truly deceased before setting their bodies on fire.
The assailants did not stop there. They proceeded to the nearest trading center, where they looted shops and escaped without any interception by the security forces.
These alarming revelations raised serious questions about the whereabouts and effectiveness of the security forces during the attack.
Mr Harold Tonny Muhindo, the representative for Bukonzo East, highlighted the security forces’ negligence, which ultimately led to the massacre.
As the rebels advanced toward the school, they encountered a boda boda rider whom they attempted to shoot.
The terrified rider sought refuge at a Customs police post and reported the attackers, only to be redirected to the Mpondwe police post.
The civilian’s double directive to report at another police station baffled Muhindo and showcased the system’s inefficiency.
Mr Ferigo Kambale, representing Kasese Municipality, revealed that the nearby deployed soldiers failed to act promptly, which explains why units deployed across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) attempted to respond.
The events that unfolded that day were described as horrific, with students pleading for help for an extended period. They were mercilessly butchered, killed, and treated like helpless animals for over an hour.
The Defence minister, before being interrupted, claimed that three days after the attack, a UPDF force pursued the attackers to River Lhubiriha, approximately 3km from the crime scene, on June 19.
The UPDF mobile squad engaged the attackers, resulting in the death of three enemies, the capture of a submachine gun, and the successful rescue of one woman and three children.
Notably, this is the first mention of an alleged engagement between UPDF troops and the suspected attackers.
Mr Ssempijja affirmed that ongoing investigations aim to answer critical questions raised by everyone. The investigation seeks to shed light on why both security personnel and civilians failed to identify or suspect the presence of the attackers.
The findings will address these concerns, as the authorities strive to uncover the truth and move forward from this tragic incident.