In connection to the attack on Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School in Kasese district on June 16, where suspected ADF rebels were involved, four unclaimed bodies have been given a proper burial. This incident resulted in approximately 44 casualties, including 38 students and other community members. Due to severe burning, 17 bodies were unrecognizable, posing challenges for identification.
The joint efforts of the police and army led to the individual burial of these unclaimed and unidentifiable bodies in separate graves within the cemetery of Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital. This process included proper labeling to facilitate future identification.
The government undertook DNA testing of parents and burnt remains, successfully identifying and matching 13 out of the 17 bodies. These identified remains were then returned to their respective families. Another body, that of a girl, was found partially buried in the jungles of DR Congo, and following a DNA test, was returned to her family in Kasese.
However, four bodies remained unclaimed despite extensive DNA testing efforts over two months. These bodies were held at the Muhoti Barracks’ Mountain Division headquarters. Given the ongoing costs and the lack of matches with DNA samples, the government opted to conduct a proper burial for these individuals.
Godfrey Kabbyanga, the State Minister for ICT and National Guidance, explained that this decision was made due to the financial burden of maintaining the bodies in the mortuary. He stated that if relatives are located, the bodies can be exhumed and handed over accordingly.
To ensure potential future matches, Captain Dr. Daniel Okello, in charge of health operations at Shuuja, noted that each body was labeled with a number during the burial process.
Vincent Twesige, the Rwenzori West Police spokesperson, encouraged relatives still searching for their loved ones to provide additional DNA samples at Mpondwe Police Station for further testing.
Maj Gen Olum, the commander of Operation Shuuja, highlighted the dedicated efforts of security forces in pursuing the rebels since the Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Secondary School attack. Out of the suspected six abducted students, three were presumed deceased based on available information.
Lt. Joe Walusimbi, the Kasese Resident District Commissioner and head of security, reassured the public of heightened security measures following the attack. He stressed the importance of using recognized travel routes between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo for safety purposes.