Uganda on Edge
|Peter Closttey||February 12th 2014|
Uganda police “swung into action” and have placed security officers on high alert after the US embassy in the country warned of a planned terrorist attack in the capital, Kampala, according to Judith Nabakooba, Uganda Police’s national spokesperson.
In a message released late Monday, the embassy said it has received information that “a group of attackers is possibly in place and ready to strike targets inside Kampala in February or March.” It said “There are indications that the Ugandan National Museum is one of the potential targets.” Nabakooba says the police are working with other security agencies as well as private security groups to thwart any possible terror attack.
“Our officers especially in the Kampala metropolitan area have strengthened their security and also their alertness in their respective areas of their operation,” said Nabakooba. “We have intensified our operations and our deployment in most of the key areas, especially where people normally gather. The police are now charged with a duty of patrolling around, but also doing routine checks in their respective areas.”
Nabakooba says the police have implemented measures to ensure the officers are following instructions as part of an effort to thwart any attacks. She also says officers from the police counter-terrorism as well as other police units have been deployed in Kampala to ensure public safety.
“We have teams that monitor to see what has been put in place is maintained especially to do with alertness of the security personnel and also police personnel. But also alertness of the proprietors and owners of the respective public places,” said Nabakooba.
She says the police have launched a nationwide education campaign asking Ugandans to help with information to prevent any attack. The campaigns, Nabakooba says are being broadcast on radio, television social media platforms as well as officers going into rural communities.
“We are still intensifying our sensitization in most of the areas to awaken members of the public,” said Nabakooba. “We need information from them, because they in as far as monitoring is concerned about what is happening in the communities, who are the suspicious people? What are the suspicious places? How can that information be given to police on time and police take action immediately?”
The Somali based Islamist militant group al-Shabab carried out a bombing in Kampala in July 2010 that killed more than 70 people.
Some observers say the police have their work cut out for them in order to win the confidence of the public following the 2010 terror attacks. But, Nabakooba says the public should be reassured that the police will protect them from attacks.
“This time around everybody in security is on full alert. And we are working jointly with other sister security agencies,” said Nabakooba. “Yes we were hit in 2010 but probably we would have been hit even other times but because of our vigilance and continued surveillance, sharing of information, we have been able to deter the reoccurrence of such actions.”
Peter Clottey writes for VOA, from where this article is adapted.