KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Gunmen carried out 13 coordinated attacks against security forces near Uganda's border with Congo but were repulsed before they could overrun a strategic barracks, Uganda's president said Tuesday.
President Yoweri Museveni, who has held power since 1986, said the attackers used guerrilla tactics and looted weapons from soldiers and police in two western districts. Attacks were foiled in a third district, he said.
At least a dozen civilians, policemen and soldiers were killed in the Saturday attacks, said Ugandan police.
The violence has sparked fears of a return to rebellion in a region that once was the scene of a deadly insurgency by rebels who accused the central government of neglect. Bundibugyo and Kasese — two frontier districts in Uganda's mountainous Rwenzori region — were plagued in the 1990s of an armed rebellion by Islamic extremist rebels who threatened to overthrow Museveni's government. Those rebels later fled to neighboring Congo, where they are widely believed to be regrouping.
Uganda's military insists the latest violence was sparked by communal tensions. Museveni said the attacks signified a "failure of intelligence" and blamed the violence on "sectarianism" amid growing rivalry between ethnic groups competing for limited resources in the region.
Ugandan officials have not said how many gunmen were involved in the attacks but security forces killed at least 51 of them, said Museveni.
The gunmen attacked a strategic barracks "Lakwena style," Museveni said, referring to the guerrilla tactics of a Ugandan mystic rebel who launched an unsuccessful insurgency against his government in the 1980s.
"We shall get to the truth and will punish those involved," he said. "In the meantime, the country should not get anxious about this scheme. It was defeated right on the first day of its execution even before the full potential of the (military) has been mobilized."