Uganda: Police Beef Up Security in Public Places

17 January 2019

Kampala — Police yesterday confirmed that security in public and social gathering places around the country has been beefed up in the wake of the terror attack in Kenya's Capital, Nairobi.

Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility of the attack on a hotel and office complex which left at least 14 people dead on Tuesday.

The group remains a security threat to Uganda following their attacks on Kampala in a twin-bombing in July 2010 that left more than 70 people dead.

Daily Monitor has seen a directive issued by the Director Counter Terrorism, Mr Abas Byakagaba, instructing all counter terrorism unit commanders to be on high alert and ensure that all crowded places, hotels and tourism sites in the country are secured.

He directed that the heightened vigilance and carrying out precautionary measures aimed at closing security gaps in those places be carried out closely with other security agencies and private security firms guarding such places.

"Ensure maximum vigilance and activate all measures to protect all vulnerable areas, including crowded places, hotels, tourism sites and other facilities," Mr Byakagaba said in an internal memo seen by this newspaper.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga confirmed the development, saying other wide ranges of interventions which could not be disclosed to the public have been put in place.

Mr Enanga said all commanding officers had received the directives.

In a way of preparedness for any planned terror attacks on Uganda, different government ministers have urged Ugandans to be vigilant and help the security agencies to detect acts of terrorism before they can strike.

The Security minister, Gen Elly Tumwine, asked Ugandans to be on the look out to identify and report strange people in their communities.

"Good enough we have now known that what happened in Nairobi was a terror attack, and terrorism can occur anywhere around the world. So, we warn everyone to be on the lookout for strangers and monitor strange parking of vehicles in busy places," Gen Tumwine said.

However, he refuted reports that the National Security Council had sat earlier in the day to evaluate the security situation and discuss the country's preparedness since the al-Shabaab, who attacked Kenya, always wish to attack Uganda.

"No, we did not have any security council meeting. I attended other meetings but not the security council meeting," Gen Tumwine said.

But Foreign Affairs State Minister Okello Oryem had told this newspaper that the Security Council sat to evaluate and assess the security situation in the country, saying "an attack on Kenya means an attack on Uganda".

Mr Oryem, who declined to reveal details of the meeting and whether he or his senior minister Sam Kutesa attended it, said: "The National Security Council sat today (Wednesday) to evaluate and assess the security situation because it is prudent for us to examine ourselves when terrorists strike out neighnours."

He said there were no reports of any Ugandans among the causalities of the Nairobi terror attack.

A source at the Ugandan embassy in Nairobi said there were some Ugandans among the people rescued from the office complex but there were no reports of "dead, wounded or missing" Ugandans.

"We sent out a notification to the Ugandans to call in case of any deaths, injuries and missing persons. Nobody has called. The official causality list is not out yet," the source said.

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