Suspected Islamic extremists stormed Katikara Anglican Church in Kakumiro District, western Uganda, hacking a church member to death and leaving several others injured last Tuesday.
Kamumiro Police Chief confirmed the midnight incident saying, ‘‘People were attending overnight prayers when the attack happened. After the night prayers, they decided to sleep in the church. However, shortly after sleeping, people armed with pangas raided the church and started randomly hacking members of the congregation. One died on the spot, while others are nursing grave injuries. Others fled the church to save their lives.’’
Lias Mugume, who had been leading overnight prayers, died after he was hacked severely by the armed extremists. A witness said, “When we were done with the prayers, we slept on the pews to wait for the morning. The priest went to sleep in his house next to the church. Suddenly, three men broke into the church and started slashing people with machetes. The first person they found near the door was Brother Mugume, who was leading us in the prayer session. He had dozed off near the door. They hacked him to death. Eight other people were also attacked, but the assailants left before we could get help.”
Those injured were rushed to the hospital. The motive of the attack is yet to be established. Local church leaders say that tension between churches and the local Muslim community has been building over time, and this could be a terrorist attack.
“The police [have not] quickly ascertain[ed] the nature of the attack since the three assailants have not been arrested. But we know that there has been increasing friction between Christians here and the Muslims. Some of them claim that the churches are making a lot of noise as if we do not have Mosques here that have prayers five times a day. We are not saying they attacked our church, but if they were just thieves, they would have stolen something. The three stormed in, attacked worshipers, and left”, exclaimed the pastor of Katikara Church.
The church district overseer condemned the Tuesday night attack saying, “It is an evil from the pits of hell to shed blood of innocent people inside a church.”
This terrorist attack comes six days after the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Congo-based militia group raided a secondary school in the neighbouring district of Kasese, killing 40 students and five community members. Six students were also abducted and taken away to Congo’s Virunga Forest, but according to reports, three of them have escaped their captors and returned to their homeland Uganda.