The Observer (Kampala)

3 February 2014

Uganda: Letter Bomb Sent to Speaker

Photo: All Africa Women Leaders' Summit
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

If Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga had personally opened all correspondence addressed to her two weeks ago, she could have been a victim of a bomb delivered in one of the parcels sent to her office.

Instead, it is an attendant at Kadaga's Parliament office who suffered serious facial injuries after opening the "letter bomb" sent to the speaker.

The attendant, Herman Kaboggoza, was rushed to Mulago hospital, where he spent a week in intensive care. By Friday, Kaboggoza was reported out of danger, although he is still recuperating at Mulago.

The Observer has learnt that Kaboggoza picked the parcel from Kadaga's mail box at the general post office in Kampala.

"When he reached office (Parliament), he opened the parcels and one of them exploded in his face," a staffer in Kadaga's office said.

The incident happened a fortnight ago, while Kadaga was out of the country on official duty.

"Because the letter was addressed to Kadaga, they [senders] could have thought that she would be the one to open it," a source familiar with the incident told The Observer.

According to the Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, a letter bomb, also called parcel bomb, mail bomb or post bomb, is an explosive device sent via the postal service, and designed with the intention to injure or kill the recipient when opened.

Some countries have agencies whose duties include the interdiction of letter bombs and investigations into letter bombings. Sources at Parliament said the senders of this letter with explosive implants could have hoped that Kadaga would open the parcel.

Instead, the 'letter bomb' as our source at Parliament termed it, blew up in the face of an unintended target because at the time, Kadaga was away attending international conferences in New Zealand and Geneva (Switzerland).

Tight-lipped

Most Parliament staff are tight-lipped about the incident. Parliament's Public Relations Manager Helen Kawesa seemed surprised when asked about the incident.

"How did you learn about that? Well, I am on leave, I have not been around; so, I don't know," Kaweesa said by telephone, adding; "That is Ranny's [Ismail, Kadaga's spokesperson] area, maybe talk to her."

Several police officers at Parliament, including those attached to Kadaga's security detail, were also hesitant to speak about the attack. But their body language and facial expressions indicated that they knew a thing or two about the incident.

"Don't ask me, I know nothing about it," said a senior police officer attached to Parliament.

When contacted, Ismail declined to comment. She said she had been away with Kadaga attending the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Speakers' and Presiding Officers' conference in New Zealand and the Women Speakers' forum conferences in Geneva.

"We are just reaching home (from the airport), we have been away, I haven't got any brief on what has been happening at Parliament, maybe I will be in position to comment next week," Ismail said by telephone on Friday.

We have however established that the investigation has been taken over by the Joint Anti- Terrorism Taskforce (JATT).

Police Spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba, said she could not comment on the matter since it was being investigated by JATT, which comprises operatives from several security agencies.

Target?

Last December Kadaga shocked the House when she told MPs about an incident in which a train nearly crashed into her car near Mukwano Industries in Kampala as she was being driven back home.

"If it had not been for the alertness of my drivers, I would have been history today, last night; a train almost crushed me to pieces as I was crossing the road near Mukwano industries," Kadaga told Parliament on December 12.

The speaker, whose motorcade enjoys the right of way, told MPs that the train emerged from nowhere without the usual warnings. Kadaga asked the Transport minister Abraham Byandala to look into it. However, The Observer could not establish last week if a formal investigation had been concluded, or even undertaken.

The 57-year-old Kamuli Woman MP enjoys lots of public goodwill, largely because she is seen as an independent speaker who stands up to the executive's excesses.

And of recent, the Second National Vice Chairperson of the NRM has been touted by her supporters as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, alongside Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya.

Some MPs interviewed believe she has become a target for possible assassination. Other legislators, however, suggested that she could be targeted by the homosexuality lobby given her role in the hurried December 20 passing of the Anti- Homosexuality Bill.

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InFocus

Ugandan Speaker Breaks Silence on Letter Bomb

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.

Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga has revealed that the letter bomb sent to her - and that left one of her office attendants injured - is now under police investigation. Read more »