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Church leaders condemn ‘horrific’ attack on school in Uganda

21 June 2023


The coffins of Florence Masika and her son Zakayo Masereka, who were both killed in the attack on Saturday, are carried to their burial in Nyabugando, Uganda, on Sunday

The coffins of Florence Masika and her son Zakayo Masereka, who were both killed in the attack on Saturday, are carried to their burial in Nyabugando,...

CHRISTIAN leaders around the world have called for justice after the brutal killing of almost 40 pupils, who were attacked while singing gospel songs in their dormitories, at a school in Uganda last week.

The Archbishop of Canterbury joined Pope Francis and the head of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in condemning the attack and in praying for peace and healing for all those affected.

According to officials, five militants attacked the Lhubiriha Secondary School in Mpondwe, western Uganda, last Friday, when they set fire to dormitories and used machetes to kill and maim pupils. A woman living near by said that she had heard the students’ usual bedtime singing turn to screaming, late on Friday night. In addition to the 38 pupils killed, six were abducted, and eight people remain in a critical condition.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, linked to Islamic State (IS), are believed to be responsible, and Ugandan armed forces have launched a search for the attackers.

The attack on the school, which was less than two kilometres from the Congolese border, is the first assault on a Ugandan school in 25 years. In June 1998, 80 students were burnt to death in their dormitories in an ADF attack on Kichwamba Technical Institute, near the DRC border, when about 100 students were also abducted.

Archbishop Welby posted a message on Twitter, saying that the attack was a terrible reflection of human cruelty: “I cry out to God for justice after this horrific act, for strength for the community and the bereaved, and for support for Uganda and its people.”

The general secretary of the WCC, the Revd Professor Jerry Pillay, said that he was shocked by news of the attack. “The WCC joins with the churches and all people of good will in Uganda and around the world in condemning this abhorrent act, in commiserating with the families and communities affected, and in praying for the healing of the wounded children and families.”

Professor Pillay said that the suffering of the people of the western regions of Uganda had gone beyond the limits of understanding. “This atrocity against innocent schoolchildren piles yet more unbearable pain upon pain. The WCC calls on the government of Uganda to act decisively in bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to book.”

Speaking at his first Sunday service since leaving hospital, Pope Francis encouraged everyone to pray for peace after the “brutal attack” on the school, and to pray for peace wherever there is tension and war.

The Archbishop of Uganda, Dr Stephen Kaziimba, said that the attack was evil and barbaric, and urged the government to reinforce security along the volatile Congolese border.

The attack has also been condemned by the secretary general of the UN, António Guterres, the African Union, and the European Union.

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