Christian Schoolchildren Massacred In Uganda’s Deadliest Terror Attack For Decades

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At least 42 killed in attack by Islamic State-linked terror group. Sub-Saharan Africa now considered ‘epicentre of world terrorism’.

Militants linked to Islamic State terrorists have carried out a massacre at a boarding school in western Uganda, killing and kidnapping students. It’s been described as the deadliest attack in Uganda since 2010.

Latest reports say at least 42 were murdered at the predominantly Christian school in Mpondwe, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Grieving parents have been burying their dead.

Gospel songs

A witness told the BBC the schoolchildren were singing gospel songs before bedtime when the terrorists struck. They cut the students down with machetes and burnt others alive in their dormitory.

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The attackers were overheard shouting Allahu Akbar (Allah is greater) during the 90-minute onslaught on Lhubiriha Secondary School.

The attackers are said to be members of the Allied Democratic Forces, an insurgency group pledged to overturn the government of Uganda, linked with Islamic State terrorists.

Thirty-seven of the dead were students at the school. Other victims included a school guard. The victims were aged 12 – 70. Eight others were severely wounded.

Children kidnapped

According to reports, the attackers kidnapped eight others to carry back looted food supplies to their base in Congo. The BBC said three were later freed by the army in a rescue mission, which resulted in the deaths of two of the assailants.

This is considered to have been the first raid by the ADF on a school in Uganda in 25 years.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis and the World Council of Churches have condemned the attack.

Justin Welby said the attack was a terrible reflection of human cruelty. He posted on Twitter: ‘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.’


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There has been a growing number of attacks against Christians in Uganda as Islamist terrorism gains ground in the region.

In May, a Christian college student was killed for sharing his faith, and the previous month, a Christian engineer who had led many Muslims to Christ was stabbed to death. Over Easter, Islamist extremists set off a fuel bomb during a Good Friday service at a Pentecostal Church.

The latest report by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) describes the Sahel and sub-Saharan regions of Africa as the new epicentre of world terrorism, accounting for 60 per cent of all the deaths by terrorism. Uganda is 48 on that list.

According to the GTI, Islamic State extremists have now overtaken the Taliban as the world’s deadliest terror group. They have called for jihadis to rally to Africa to make it the centre for Islamist operations.  

Says the GTI: ‘Recent propaganda distributed by IS has called for its supporters to migrate to Africa, ‘the land of jihad’ to build up a new base of operations there… highlighting that the African continent is now at the centre of the group’s current strategy.’

GTI report terrorism is spreading from northeast Nigeria to the countries around. Especially hard hit are Burkina Faso and Mali, where the Islamist violence is also extending to neighbouring countries. The region has now overtaken the Middle East and North Africa as the number one hotspot for terrorism.

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‘Wake-up call’

Release International partner Susanna (identity protected) is working to help Christians driven out of their homes in the Sahel. Over the years she has witnessed the spread of radicalisation and intolerance. In Burkina Faso, she says more than 600 jihadist schools are training jihadist fighters.

She told Release International: ‘I’m really sorry for what happened in Uganda. It was the picture we didn’t want to come true, but the region’s situation is worsening. May God protect them and be with them as they pass through the dark valley.

‘When you look at the big picture, I am afraid for Africa. The jihadists are trying to make an Islamic state of the greater Sahara. This is a religious conflict. It’s a wake-up call for us all.’


Despite that the Church is growing, Susanna believes. ‘Christians are growing in faith and have the courage to keep up their faith.’

Paul Robinson is the CEO of UK-based Release International which supports persecuted Christians around the world. He says: ‘Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents and children of Uganda. The religiously motivated violence that has been spreading in Nigeria is now being replicated in a much wider region. It is time for the world to sit up and take notice.’


Uganda is a majority Christian nation with many active churches. Eighty-four per cent are Christians. Of these 34 per cent are evangelicals.

The influence of radical Islam is growing steadily. Many Christians in the Muslim-majority border regions have experienced persecution. Pastors and churches have been attacked and converts from Islam have been killed. In some areas, local laws have been passed to seize church land.

Release International affiliates are helping believers who have been attacked because of their Christian faith and are supporting pastors to stand in the face of growing Islamist extremism.

Release International is active in around 30 countries. It works through partners to prayerfully, pastorally, and practically support the families of Christian martyrs, prisoners of faith and their families, as well as Christians suffering oppression and violence, and Christians forced to flee.