New Vision (Kampala)

14 July 2010

Uganda/Somalia: Museveni Vows to Crush the Terrorists

Kampala — President Yoweri Museveni has said the al-Shabaab terrorists who infiltrated Uganda and bombed football fans watching the World Cup final will be pursued within and outside Uganda and eliminated.

"Within Uganda, we shall weed out any of these elements and loopholes which these people used," said Museveni, addressing local and foreign journalists at his Ntungamo home last night.

"It was a very big mistake on their side," he said. "We shall deal with the authors of this crime. They have exposed themselves; we have got a lot of information on them that we did not have before."

Museveni, whose address was telecast live on UBC, was focused on the deadly bomb attacks that killed 74 people on Sunday. He said he was extremely angry about the attacks, but not surprised. "I can assure you, we shall eliminate them. We are going to go on the offensive, and get these terrorists," he vowed.

"They are backward and cowardly. Why do you attack innocent people watching football?" he asked.

He said the terrorists were able to carry out the attacks due to the laxity and liberal atmosphere in Uganda on the part of the security and general public. He said in Somalia the problem has been concentration of the AU peacekeepers on guarding the capital, the presidential palace and the port.

"It will have to be peace enforcement to bring peace to Somalia. That is my view but we shall have to agree on it in IGAD," Museveni said when asked whether he wants the mandate of the peacekeeping force changed so that it can pursue the Islamist militants.

He said there has not been strict monitoring of foreigners coming into Uganda. He indicated that henceforth the security will be interested in private functions. Museveni said the Government had information about possible infiltration by the terrorists but they used other means in the Sunday incidents.

He said security is now on the alert and citizens have been told to increase vigilance. However, he noted that too much security control interferes with business, which is why Uganda does not have many roadblocks.

He said IGAD had agreed to increase the soldiers in Somalia by between 2,000 and 3,000 troops in the short run and eventually to 20,000. He said the transitional government of Somalia will be helped to eliminate the terrorists, who he said, were sponsored by narrow-minded groups in the Middle East.

He urged Ugandans not to make blanket condemnation of Somalis in Uganda as terrorists. He said those who are connected to the terrorists will be profiled, arrested, charged and if found guilty through the judicial process, will be hanged. He assured the country that the AU summit will take place and that there is no way it can be stopped.

He said the terrorists attacked unguarded pitches, but the summit will be well guarded. In any case even the pitches are now well-guarded, he added.

He dismissed the argument that Uganda was attacked for deploying in Somalia, saying Kenya and Tanzania were attacked in 1998 although they have never had troops in Somalia, Afghanistan or Iraq.

On calls for security chiefs should resign over the attacks, he said even the more advanced countries like the US were still grappling with the problem of terrorists.

He said: "We fought for freedom and not slavery from confused groups from the Middle East in exchange of colonial rule.

"Those who argue that the best way to avoid trouble is to surrender Africa to terrorists from the Middle East are wrong," he added. "These people have invited a lot of anger from the world, I can assure you they have invited a lot of problem to themselves."

On the porous borders, he said his government cannot build a fence at the borders, but can closely monitor people who come in.

He also reiterated his view that the Judiciary should handle the cases of murder, rape, defilement and terrorism expeditiously.

He said he would discuss the matter with the Chief Justice.

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