SA woman tourist, among three killed by suspected Muslim extremists in western Uganda

The vehicle of a Ugandan Christian tour guide Eric Alyai which was set ablaze after he was slain along with a tourist couple, David Barlow of Britian and his South African wife, Celia, in western Uganda on October 17 (PHOTO: The Christian Post)

Originally published in The Christian Post

The killers of a tour guide and two tourists in western Uganda accused them of supporting Christian work, days after an evangelist in Kampala was beaten unconscious after Muslim extremists attacked him for being an “infidel,” sources said.

Those killed were Ugandan Christian tour guide, Eric Alyai, 40, British tourist David Barlow and his South African wife, 51-year-old Celia Barlow. They were shot dead in western Uganda’s massive Queen Elizabeth Park by suspected Islamic terrorists of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF),sources said.

In the Kawaala area of Kampala, six Muslim extremists shouting, “Kafir [Infidel]!” and the jihadist slogan “Allah akbar [Allah is greater]” attacked 27-year-old Robert Settimba as he was walking home from street preaching at about 7pm on October 10, said a friend, whose identity is withheld.

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“The Muslims got hold of him and started kicking and boxing him as others came beating him with sticks, as I watched from a distance, helpless,” the friend told Morning Star News. “Some bystanders were shouting at me to disappear or else the attackers will also beat me up. I then left my friend lying down.”

He sought help from a nearby church, and he and other Christians returned to the site where they found Settimba unconscious and took him to a nearby hospital, he said.

Settimba is well-known to Christians as a street preacher to Muslims in Kampala, Kisenyi, Wandegeya and Kawaala. His injuries included severe chest pain, bruising on his thigh, left hand and shoulder, and swelling and inflammation on his left ankle.

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“In my mission outreach, many have turned to Christ, especially business young men and women, students and some Muslim leaders,” Settimba told Morning Star News from his hospital bed. “I didn’t know that it was hurting Muslims for me to speak about Christ and use the Quran while doing evangelization.”

Settimba said he regained consciousness in the hospital.

“When I came to my senses, I found myself in the hospital with Christians around my bed,” he said. “They supported me and gave me 50 000 Uganda shillings [R248] for medical treatment.”

Settimba said he was yet to decide whether it would be too dangerous to file a police report on the assault.

Killing in Kasese
The murder of the tour guide and two tourists by suspected ADF terrorists in Kasese District, occurred at 6.30pm on October 7 on the Queen Elizabeth Park’s Katwe Road between L Nyamununka and Kabatooro, according to security agencies.

An area resident who witnessed the attack while fetching firewood told Morning Star News that she heard the sound of bullets and hid. When the Muslim extremists approached the tourists’ vehicle, they shouted: “We know you are the people who are supporting Christians in Uganda and coming in the name of tourists,” according to the resident, whose name is withheld for security reasons.

“Then and there they fired on them and then later burned the vehicle to ashes,” the source told Morning Star News.

Alyai was known to take tourists to Christian-owned hotels in Kasese, which helped generate income for the local church, and he also took Christian tourists to churches in Kasese, sources said.

Authorities suspected ADF terrorists in the killing, according to security group Crisis24. Originally based in western Uganda, the ADF has operated in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu Province since the late 1990s.

The ADF is considered one of the most lethal of more than 120 armed groups in the eastern DRC. In 2019 the ADF split into two factions, with one merging into the Islamic State Central Africa Province. The US government in 2021 designated the ADF as a foreign terrorist organisation with links to the Islamic State.

Alyai, a resident of Entebbe municipality in Wakiso District, is survived by his wife, Ruth Mutamba, and a small child.

“Many people in Kasese are now mourning for the death of Eric Alyai,” a source told Morning Star News. “He was known for his good work in tourism as well as supporting the work of God in western Uganda.”

An ADF splinter group was suspected in the June 16 slaughter of 37 students, most of them Christians, at the dormitories of a private school in Mpondwe, Kasese District.

The attacks this month were the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12% of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country. 

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