Three people, including an English tourist and a South African, were killed by armed men in a Ugandan national park, police announced Tuesday, who attributed the attack to a rebel group affiliated with the jihadist group Islamic State.
“The three people were killed and their safari vehicle burned,” declared a police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, on X (formerly Twitter).
The third victim is the Ugandan guide of the two tourists, said the Ugandan National Parks Administration.
The group was riding in the famous Queen Elizabeth National Park when they were attacked by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, Enanga said.
“Our forces responded immediately after being informed of the attack and are hotly pursuing suspected ADF rebels,” he added.
The National Parks Administration requested, in a press release, “the public to be patient and allow the investigation to take its course.”
Following the attack, the British government updated its travel advice for Uganda, warning that “attackers are still at large”.
Queen Elizabeth Park shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its famous Virunga Park, renowned for its wildlife, notably its mountain gorillas, but also known for serving as a rear base for numerous armed groups for nearly thirty years.
In 2019, an American tourist and his safari guide were kidnapped by four armed men while driving through the park at dusk.
The attackers pulled the two men from their vehicle and left two other tourists on board, described by police as an “elderly couple”.
The tourist and his guide were found unharmed after paying a ransom. According to the police, the perpetrators of the kidnapping had used the tourist’s cell phone to demand a ransom of $500,000.
This attack in Queen Elizabeth Park comes a few days after Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed that bomb attacks on churches by members of the ADF had been foiled on Sunday about fifty km from the capital, Kampala.
Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Museveni, 79 years old and who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1986, declared that Ugandan forces had carried out airstrikes the day before against ADF positions in neighboring DRC.
ADF could “attempt to commit random terrorist acts” in Uganda following these airstrikes, the president warned.
In June, members of the ADF killed 42 people, including 37 students, in a high school in western Uganda located very close to the border with the DRC.
Originally the mainly Muslim Ugandan rebels, established in the DRC since the 1990s, these members of the ADF pledged allegiance in 2019 to IS, which claims some of their actions and presents them as its “Central African province” (Iscap in English).
They are accused of having killed thousands of civilians over the past ten years.
In its latest report published in June, the UN group of experts on the DRC says that IS has “provided financial support to the ADF since at least 2019, through a complex financial system involving individuals in several countries on the continent, emanating from Somalia and passing through South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.
Uganda and the DRC launched a joint offensive in 2021 to drive the ADF from their Congolese strongholds, failing so far to end the group’s attacks.