Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ugandans Provide DNA to ID Missing Massacre Students

FILE: Mourners gather for funeral of Florence Masika and Zakayo Masereka in Mpondwe on June 18, 2023. Families buried their dead in western Uganda on Sunday while others desperately searched for those still missing after militants killed dozens of students in a school attack.

KAMPALA — Parents of students missing after an attack on a school in western Uganda are flocking to the local police station to submit DNA samples that could identify their children among the 42 bodies that have been recovered.

One of Uganda's biggest massacres in recent decades occurred Friday night at Lhubirira Secondary School. Assailants set a dormitory full of boys alight, then attacked a dormitory full of girls, hacking victims to death with machetes and knives.

Simon Kule, who had come to Bwera Police Station to give a DNA sample, was still looking for his son, Philmon Mumbere.

"So they should help us to know - either these people are still there or they are in the mortuary so that we should prepare in time."

Solomon Mulekya was looking for his daughter, Trephine Kaghuo.

"We are not happy, because we have lost our children," he said. "I'm there in suspense, whether the rebels they have taken her or we don't know they killed her along the way."

Six students were also abducted by the attackers, who the authorities say were fighters from an Islamic State-affiliated group based across the border in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Regional police commander Tai Ramadhan said many of the dead bodies were charred beyond recognition, forcing investigators to use DNA samples from relatives to try to identify them.

Authorities said on Monday that 20 suspected "collaborators" of the Friday attackers, including the school's head teacher, had been detained for questioning.