KAMPALA, Sept 15 — Ugandan police have said that suspected Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents arrested in weekend raids had planned to carry out bomb attacks, as the US embassy said the immediate threat had been “countered”.
Police raids on Saturday came two weeks after Ugandan troops, fighting in Somalia, reportedly provided intelligence that helped US special forces kill the Al-Shabaab’s chief in a devastating air strike.
“Al-Shabaab planned to carry out attacks in Kampala and other towns over the weekend, but police working with sister agencies stopped these attacks and we have recovered the explosives they were to use,” said police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura.
“We have arrested a number of suspects and they are being interrogated,” he said, without giving further details on the number arrested or the targets they had planned to attack.
The US embassy on Sunday lifted warnings to its citizens to stay at home, but said people should remain vigilant.
“Based on coordination with Ugandan authorities, and taking into account the heightened security measures the government has put in place, we believe that the immediate threat of an Al-Shabaab attack has been effectively countered,” the embassy said in a statement.
“We remain vigilant to the possibility that some of the attack cell could still be at large.”
Last Monday the US embassy warned that Al-Shabaab insurgents may try to exact revenge for a US air strike that killed the militant group’s commander.
“Stay alert to the ongoing potential for terrorist attacks in Uganda,” it said.
“We also caution US citizens of the possibility of retaliatory attacks in Uganda by Al-Shabaab in response to the US and Ugandan military actions in Somalia last week which killed Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Godane.”
Uganda is a major contributor to AMISOM, the African Union (AU) force fighting the Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The government said it was “happy” at the death of Godane, and that it had provided the US with key intelligence on his whereabouts.
The strike against Godane came days after AU troops and Somali government forces launched “Operation Indian Ocean”, a major offensive aimed at seizing key ports from the Al-Shabaab and cutting off charcoal exports, one of their key revenue sources.
Ugandan security forces have stopped a cell of Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab insurgents apparently “planning for an imminent attack,” the US embassy said Saturday.
“Ugandan authorities reported the discovery of an Al Shabaab terrorist cell in Kampala,” it said in a statement.
“We remain in close contact with our Ugandan counterparts as investigations continue into what appears to have been planning for an imminent attack.”
Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed forces had “made arrests.”
“Joint security agencies in Uganda have foiled a terrorist attempt at one of its installations,” Enanga told AFP, without giving any further details.
Security forces have boosted patrols around major sites, the US said, in a warning statement to its citizens in the east African nation.
“At this point we are not aware of specific targets, and the Ugandan authorities have increased security at key sites, including Entebbe International Airport,” the embassy said.
“If you must move about, remain aware of your surroundings, avoid crowds, monitor local news stations for updates, and maintain a high level of vigilance.”
Uganda’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said immigration officers had carried out an “operation on illegal immigrant workers in different parts of Kampala” on Saturday morning, with 69 people arrested.
SOURCE: NEW VISION