Security agencies within the East African region have been placed on high alert following intelligence information indicating that Al Qaeda linked Somali terrorist group Al shabaab is planning to carry out merciless attacks on the region and Uganda in particular.
According to a statement issued by the Inspector General of Police Lt General Kale Kayihura, the force has received information of plans by Al Shabab to carry out attacks targeting Uganda.
Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba says the police together with sister security agencies in East Africa are working closely to verify this information and as a precaution, a number of counter terrorism measures are being put in place to prevent the evil plans of these criminals.
“These measures are a combination of vigilance of the police, supported by other security agencies. Fighting terrorism requires the vigilance of each and every member of the public. to prevent terrorism requires a combination of the following: popular vigilance,premises security. to prevent terrorism requires a combination of: police patrols,regular and timely public information” Nabakooba said.
According to the IGP’s statement, members of the public are called upon to ensure security consciousness, Look out for suspicious or abandoned items, all owners of public places such as places of entertainment, markets, churches, shopping malls concerts, sports and social gatherings are urged to strengthen their premises security.
However, the IGP in his statement called on the public not to panic saying “You should go about your business, normally, only more alert, and security conscious. Together we shall prevail.”
It should be recalled that in July 2010, the same terrorist group carried out attacks against crowds watching a screening of 2010 FIFA World Cup match during the World Cup at two locations in Kampala, leaving more than 70 dead and 70 injured. Al shabaab claimed responsibility and said they were doing it in retaliation of Uganda’s presence in war torn Somalia. Uganda forms part of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Below is the IGP’s statement
POLICE TERROR ALERT
We have received information of plans by Al Shabab terrorists and their collaborators to carry out attacks within the East African Region, and in particular targeting Uganda.
We, together with sister security agencies, are verifying this information. However, as a precaution, we are activating the counter terrorism measures to prevent the evil plans of these dangerous criminals. These measures are a combination of vigilance of the Police, supported by the other security agencies, vigilance of owners/proprietors, especially of public buildings, and the general public. Indeed, fighting terrorism requires the vigilance of each and every member of the public, and we, therefore, call upon each and every one of you, to join our efforts to counter the evil plans against our country.
As we guided you before, to prevent terrorism requires a combination of the following:
• Popular vigilance/Neighbourhood Watch
• Premises security,
• Police patrols (surveillance, and emergency response), as well as
• Regular, and timely public information.
Accordingly, and as a reminder, we urge the following:
1. Security Consciousness. As you move about be conscious of your surroundings, and what goes on in your neighbourhoods, at all times. Look out for strange and suspicious looking people (e.g those putting on overcoats in hot or warm weather). Politely confront them, demanding for their identity, and, quickly, inform any LC official or the nearest police post/station, or any security officer, or any person in authority in the vicinity.
2. Look out for suspicious or abandoned items or packages e.g. bags, cars, boxes, unexpected gifts, flowers, flasks, mails and parcels, abandoned suitcases, dust bins, electronics, ie radios, watches, cameras, mobile phones, television etc and any other items with loose wires attached, and immediately inform any LC official, or the nearest police post, and/or any security officer in the vicinity. Specifically, look out, and scrutinize suspicious liquids packed in bottles, and, immediately, alert the Police, any LC official, or any security officer or person in authority in the vicinity.
3. Premises security. From residences, personal offices, to public buildings, places of entertainment, places of worship, markets, supermarkets, malls, taxi parks, bus terminals, etc, must be protected. The primary responsibility is on the owners/proprietors, with support from the Police and sister security agencies. Have a mechanism in place to know who reside, work, or visit the premises. Accordingly, put in place effective access control measures at buildings/venues/events. First, there should be capable guards (who are alert, 24/7) at gates, or all entry points to check every body accessing the premises. Secondly, there should be Metal detectors (walk through doors, hand held detectors, etc), dogs at all entrance points to detect possible intrusion of explosive materials e.g. bombs. Thirdly, security lights, alarms, etc, should, if they have not been placed along non-porous perimeter fences, be installed. Hotels, malls, supermarkets, markets such as kikubo, public buildings with underground parking should put in place additional guards/other security measures.
4. In particular, Bus and taxi owners and operators, working with Police and the other security services, should put in place enhanced access control, and internal security measures both in the parks, as well as entering and within the vehicles while on the move. Vehicles should be subjected to checks before entry into any premises and/or parking yards. Vehicles should be searched and its underside scrutinized using angled mirrors. Where there are multiple entrances, and exits, particularly, the Old Taxi Park in Kampala, either ensure effective access control through all of them or minimized them so that traffic flow is through one entry/exit point.
5. Further, we strongly urge all owners of public places such as places of entertainment, markets, churches, shopping malls concerts, sports and social gatherings to strengthen their premises security and also involve the Police in the early stages of planning and preparations of the events.
6. Educational institutions should implement the basic standards for safety and security provided to them by the Ministry of Education. In particular, they should at all times ensure that visitors to the premises are properly searched and entrances manned by trained security guards on a 24-hour basis.
In addition, ensure that the premises are kept neat and clean. All rubbish containers, excessive stock and equipment must be removed. This will decrease the possibility of an “out of place” object which may suddenly appear, and could possibly be an explosive such as a bomb.
7. To eliminate possible “bomb shelters/hideouts”, all rubbish cans and containers should be quickly removed from premises, especially, in passages, toilets, and in public places. All office cupboards and entry panels for wiring and plumbing must be locked away, when not in use.
8. We have set up security inspection teams to ensure that premises adhere to these security measures. In particular, we request proprietors and managers of the following categories of premises to expect visits from our teams: Places of entertainment and social gatherings, bars, hotels, supermarkets and malls, taxi parks and bus parks, places of worship, hospitals, stadia, camping sites, restaurants, public buildings, and markets. Please accord them the cooperation that you gave us during the last festive season. However, I must, also, warn you that those that are found to be unsatisfactory, we shall have no choice but to take measures to alert members of the public and take appropriate action within the law to secure the public.
9. Police patrols/Spot checks. The Police will enhance its visibility through foot, motor cycle, and motor vehicle patrols. We shall conduct spot checks, and request for your cooperation, and understanding in case of any inconvenience.
10. Otherwise, the above measures notwithstanding, we call upon members of the public not to panic because that is what the terrorists want. You should go about your business, normally, only more alert, and security conscious. Together we shall prevail.
Lieutenant General Kale Kayihura
Inspector General of Police