Terror Alert: Al- Shabab planning to hit Uganda during AFCON matches

Two days after the American Embassy in Kampala issued a terror alert warning its citizens of planned terrorist attacks targeting crowded and high-end places, the Police has also warned Ugandans to be vigilant as they watch the Africa Cup of Nations in bars and clubs.

A statement issued by the director of Counter Terrorism, Abas Byakagaba, said the Police had received credible intelligence reports of possible intention by terrorists “to conduct simultaneous or isolated attacks on Uganda and another East African country, targeting unspecified areas/facilities including those facilitated by foreign nationals”.

On Thursday, the US Embassy issued a terror alert for possible attacks on Uganda. This was after the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam also issued a terror alert in Tanzania warning its citizens. “There are rumors of impending attacks in areas frequented by expats within East Africa, including Uganda.

The embassy has no substantive evidence of the threat or information on the timing, but nonetheless warns citizens to take precautions,” the US Embassy noted. The US citizens were asked to, among others, be aware of their surroundings, avoid crowds, monitor media for updates, stay alert in locations frequented by tourists/ Westerners.

Byakagaba directed all Police commanders, with immediate effect, to implement tough security measures, which include instructing all personnel at places of deployment to remain alert. He also wants the Police commanders to conduct “security inspections and snap checks on all crowded places and those that normally host foreign nationals for whatever purposes”.

He also wants the Police to ensure that they properly monitor all public places that will host the Africa Cup of Nations matches from the start (June 21) to the final day of the tournament (July 19). The Counter-Terrorism boss also wants “enhance focused counter-terrorism deployments, patrols, surveillance, and intelligence operations in areas of responsibility”.

Police commanders are also required to activate alert squads on alertness of personnel on duty. They are also required to “watch out for suspicious individuals, vehicles and motorists, both parked and in motion, especially at venues or any crowded places that normally host foreign nationals and any other objects since explosive devices can be disguised to look like ordinary items.”

The Police are also required to work with sister security agencies to conduct routine checks. Police commanders are required to enhance the protection of stations, barracks, and other vital installations. Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said they had deployed in critical areas to ensure the public and vital installations were protected.

The warning comes in the wake of the arrest of three Kenyan nationals who were intercepted on Friday by the Uganda Revenue Authority as they were being smuggled in a truck concealed in wooden boxes. They have since been handed to Internal Security Organisation for further investigations.

On July 11, 2010, al-Shabaab carried out two suicide bombings against crowds watching a screening of the 2010 FIFA World Cup final match in Kyadondo Rugby grounds and the Ethiopian restaurant in Kabalagala. The attacks left over 74 people dead and 71 injured