A total of 20 people including the headmaster and director have been arrested following the attack by suspected ADF rebels on Lhubirira Secondary School in Mpondwe on Friday night leaving at least 42 students dead.
The attack saw a group of suspected ADF fighters raid the school at night before firing indiscriminately into the girls’ dormitory and also throwing a bomb into the boys’ dormitory.
Addressing the media on Monday morning, Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga said as part of the investigations, security has arrested 20 people for questioning.
“At least 20 people of suspected ADF collaborators have been arrested but we also have apprehended the head teacher and director of school as part of our inquiries to give us answers to certain questions,” Enanga said.
The arrest of suspected collaborators follows reports by the UPDF Mountain Division Commander, Gen Dick Olum that the attackers had spent two days in the area prior to the attack and that they could have been helped out by some of the locals.
He also noted that the attackers could have been helped by locals to carry out reconnaissance and identify their target by getting prior knowledge of the geography of the school.
“They knew where the girls sleep and where the boys sleep, they burnt the boys and hacked the girls,” he said.
Maj Gen Olum wondered why the locals were not vigilant enough to see that some new members have come to the community, he called upon residents to open their eyes to any new members in the community and report such.
The First Lady who also doubles as the Education Minister, Janet Kataaha Museveni in a press briefing on Saturday said the school could have been attacked by people hired by rivals claiming ownership of the school.
She cited a rivalry between the host community and the Canadian sponsors of the school.
The Education Minister’s claims, therefore, lend credence to the arrest of the school headmaster and director by security to further aid in investigations.
According to Enanga, of the 42 deceased people, 37 were students, the school watchman and a 96-year-old peasant at a nearby village as the attackers fled the scene.
He noted that 25 bodies have since been examined at Bwera Hospital and 23 of these were handed over to the immediate family members.
Two bodies have been identified but family members have not yet picked them.
“Of these were also 17 burnt bodies which were all male with burns on their front and backs. One victim had an additional gunshot wound to show that they shot him inside the dormitory before they set it on fire,” Enanga said.
He noted that six people are still admitted to the hospital with injuries.
“These acts by the ADF are barbaric, inhumane and constitute crimes against humanity. As a country, we shall continue to stand with each other in the fight against terrorism. No matter how heinous or brutal the attack is or inhumane the methods used, they will not succeed in demolishing our solidarity as a country,” Enanga said.
He noted the pursuit by UPDF for the attackers is still ongoing.
The ADF rebel group has been designated by the US as a terrorist outfit but was also stated by the Islamic State as its affiliate in Central Africa.