Gunmen killed three people, including two foreign tourists, in a world-famous Ugandan national park, police said Tuesday, blaming the attack on a notorious militia group.
“The three were killed, and their safari vehicle burnt,” police spokesman Fred Enanga said on X, formerly Twitter.
The trio were driving through the Queen Elizabeth National Park when they came under attack from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group, Enanga said.
“Our joint forces responded immediately upon receiving the information and are aggressively pursuing the suspected ADF rebels.”
The nationalities of the tourists were not immediately clear, but the third victim was identified as a Ugandan.
Queen Elizabeth shares a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its famous Virunga National Park, a habitat for rare mountain gorillas, and where armed groups are believed to operate.
In 2019, a US tourist and her safari guide where kidnapped by four gunmen as they drove through the park around dusk.
The gunmen dragged the pair from their safari vehicle, but left behind two other tourists, whom police described as an “elderly couple.”
They were later recovered safe and sound after a ransom was paid for their release. Police said the kidnappers used the American’s mobile telephone to demand a ransom of $500,000 for their release.
Tuesday’s attacks come two days after Ugandan veteran President Yoweri Museveni said police had foiled a bomb attack by the ADF on churches about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital Kampala.
The ADF made two bombs, which they “were planning to plant in churches in Kibibi, Butambala,” Museveni wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
But the devices “were reported to police and defused,” he added.
Earlier that day, Museveni said Ugandan forces had carried out air strikes against ADF positions in neighbouring DRC.
– Kidnappings and looting –
The ADF is historically a Ugandan rebel coalition whose biggest group comprised Muslims opposed to Museveni.
Established in eastern DRC in 1995, the group became the deadliest of scores of outlawed forces in the deeply troubled region.
The ADF has been blamed for massacres, kidnappings and looting, with a death toll estimated in the thousands.
In June, ADF militia members killed 42 people including 37 students in a high school in western Uganda near the border with DRC.
It was one of the deadliest attacks in Uganda since the 2010 double attack in Kampala that killed 76 people in a raid claimed by the Somali-based Islamist group Al-Shabaab.
Since April 2019, some ADF attacks in eastern DRC have been claimed by the Islamic State group (IS), which describes the ADF as its local offshoot, the Islamic State Central Africa Province.
In a report due published in June, UN experts said the Islamic State group has provided financial support to the ADF since at least 2019.
The United States last year placed the ADF on its list of “terrorist” organisations linked to IS.
Tourism is a top foreign exchange earner in Uganda, contributing almost 10 percent of GDP, according to government figures.