Uganda tightens security after suicide bombings kill quartet

Friday, November 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Members of Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) walk past the bomb explosion site in Kampala, Uganda, on November 16, 2021. Photo/AFP

Kampala, Wednesday

Armed police and soldiers patrolled Uganda’s capital today after twin suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State group killed four people on Tuesday, the latest in a string of attacks in the East African country.

Checkpoints have been set up on several roads in Kampala, while the areas where the two bombings occurred in the heart of the capital have been closed off to motorists as teams of investigators scour the blast sites.

“We encourage the public to remain on high alert as threats are real and high,” Kampala Metropolitan police spokesman Luke Owoyesigyire told AFP, announcing stepped up security measures.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a visit to neighbouring Kenya, said the bombings highlighted the need to improve security across the region.

Tuesday’s attacks occurred within minutes of each other, with two suicide bombers on motorbikes disguised as “boda boda” motorcycle taxi drivers detonating a device near parliament, while a third attacker targeted a checkpoint near the central police station.

Ugandan police had initially said they were the work of “domestic terrorists” linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group active in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

They followed two attacks last month also blamed by Kampala on the ADF, which the United States has linked to the IS group.

“The attack yesterday was a painful reminder of our vital reason why we continue to work together to improve security across the East African region,” Blinken told reporters in Nairobi. Kenya itself has also beefed up security in towns and border areas following the blasts.

Stay indoors

Ugandan police said Tuesday three people had died in the attacks. Baterana Byaruhanga, executive director of Mulago National Referral hospital, told reporters today a fourth victim died overnight from his injuries.

Military police were guarding entrances to the sprawling medical facility, which was treating victims, many of them police.

“I did not go to work in the market today because of the attacks yesterday,” 31-year-old mother of two Sylvia Nabukeera, who works in Kampala’s commercial hub Kikuubo, told AFP. 

“I have temporarily suspended work to take care of my kids until it is safe to go to work.”

Investigations were ongoing into the blasts, with police hunting for suspects, after foiling a third bombing on Tuesday and shooting dead the attacker.  -AFP

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