30 Years On, UPDF Assesses Ojapi Primary School Bomb Victims For Compensation

One of the victims arrive for the assessment at Ojapi primary school in Maracha district

BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

MARACHA: Saturday, August 14, 2021

On a bright Friday, September 20,1991, at around 11:45am two unknown war planes approached Ojapi primary school in Maracha district from the direction of Mount Liru in Koboko district.

Within a blink of an eye, five bombs rained down, three of the munitions fell on the school and church compound while the other two landed at a home on the eastern side of Ojapi hill, instantly killing Charles Driwale, 11, and Mary Jackson, a pregnant woman.

The shrapnel from the blast shattered one leg of Isaac Azabo and for another victim Aluma Toko, a fragment has remained stuck inside his body.

The damage count in the aftermath of the raid was 21 sheep dead, six cows decimated and six staff houses, the church building, four church teachers’ houses, the school library and six houses of the school neighbours flattened.

With nobody claiming responsibility for the attack, residents quickly concluded that Sudan, that was in the middle of a hot war with the rebel group the Sudan people’s liberation army that was fighting for the independence of South Sudan with tacit support from Uganda government, must have mistaken the school for a rebel training camp, hence the bombing.

A UPDF officer guides Kamure Aluma, former headmaster of Ojapi primary to sign a document.

Thirty years on, last Wednesday, the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces’ special investigation branch from the 4th Division headquarters in Gulu completed their damage assessment to effect compensation of the victims.

Unlike the one conducted by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence last year, out of which nothing helpful has come to the victims, this time the victims say they hold real hope that the uniformed soldiers will take their report to the Ministry of Defense to feed the government about their plight.

“When I went to Mbuya military barracks to meet Veterans and compensation unit officials after the visit by the CMI officers, I was told that we were going to be assessed by the army doctors and this did not happen. Today I am grateful because they have send another team here,” Philliam Debo, the chairperson of the victims said. 

Maj. Jonnes Angua, team leader of the assessors said that they will promptly deliver their report to the UPDF leadership for further decision making.

He said their assessment was aimed at eliminating the possibility of under or over valuation.

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