Uganda on terror alert after Nairobi explosion
Posted Tuesday, May 29 2012 at 00:00
Hours after a blast ripped through a building in Nairobi’s central business district, injuring about 30 people - sixteen of them critically, Uganda heightened its security.
John Ndugutse, the police’s director for counter-terrorism, said they have “doubled” their alertness and urged the public to be more vigilant by promptly reporting to security agencies sightings of any suspicious persons and objects.
“The threats from these terrorists is a daily one which we have to confront,” he said by telephone from the border Kisoro district where he is overseeing the screening of Congolese refugees to prevent infiltration of rogue characters.
He added: “These terrorists are enemies of peace and have on-and-off threatened our security and we are prepared for them.” The impact of the blast, which violently shook buildings in the neighbourhood and sent debris flying several metres away, sparked talk of a terrorist attack – similar to what Prime Minister Raila Odinga said during a visit to the blast scene.
“This is a terrible tragedy that has befallen our country once again, he said, “They (Kenya’s adversaries) are resorting to cowardly terrorist activities of targeting soft civilian targets like this.”
Mr Odinga said the country will not capitulate to terrorists bent on disrupting tourism and investment, and will spare no resources to defeat the extremists.
In Monday's telephone conversation, Uganda’s head of counter-terrorism described the explosion in Nairobi as “regrettable” and asked everyone to be “more cautious”.
“Some of these people are planning to unleash bad things on us,” said Mr Ndugutse, who declined to discuss the specific nature of the present threats.
The US embassy in Nairobi a few weeks ago warned that a terrorist strike in Nairobi was imminent. And a confirmation that yesterday’s explosion at Assanands House - which follows a string of other explosions in different parts of the country - was a handiwork of terrorists.
The Somali radical group, the Al Qaeda-backed al-Shabaab, has repeatedly vowed to strike targets in Uganda, Burundi and lately Kenya to avenge the involvement of troops from these countries in hunting them down.
A senior intelligence official in Kampala said: “It’s true we have been on their (al-Shabaab) target but it’s not possible to know where it (an attack) will happen.”
The source told this newspaper that previous intercepts of communication showed the extremists planned attacks on State House.