Ugandan police said Sunday that suspected Islamist Shebab insurgents arrested in weekend raids had planned to carry out bomb attacks, as the US embassy said the immediate threat had been “countered”.
Police raids on Saturday came two weeks after Ugandan troops, fighting in Somalia, reportedly provided intelligence that helped US special forces kill the Shebab’s chief in a devastating air strike.
“Al-Shebab planned to carry out attacks in Kampala and other towns over the weekend, but police working with sister agencies stopped these attacks and we have recovered the explosives they were to use,” police chief Kale Kayihura told AFP.
“We have arrested a number of suspects and they are being interrogated,” he said, without giving further details on the number arrested or the targets they had planned to attack.
The US embassy on Sunday lifted warnings to its citizens to stay at home, but said people should remain vigilant.
“Based on coordination with Ugandan authorities, and taking into account the heightened security measures the government has put in place, we believe that the immediate threat of an Al-Shebab attack has been effectively countered,” the embassy said in a statement.
“We remain vigilant to the possibility that some of the attack cell could still be at large.”
Last Monday the US embassy warned that Shebab insurgents may try to exact revenge for a US air strike that killed the militant group’s commander.
“Stay alert to the ongoing potential for terrorist attacks in Uganda,” it said.
“We also caution US citizens of the possibility of retaliatory attacks in Uganda by Al-Shebab in response to the US and Ugandan military actions in Somalia last week which killed Al-Shebab leader Ahmed Godane.”
Uganda’s government said the country — a major contributor to AMISOM, the African Union (AU) force fighting the Shebab — was “happy” at the death of Godane, and had provided the US with key intelligence on his whereabouts.
During the World Cup final four years ago, Shebab insurgents killed at least 76 people after setting off explosions that ripped through two restaurants in Kampala.
The strike against Godane came days after AU troops and Somali government forces launched “Operation Indian Ocean”, a major offensive aimed at seizing key ports from the Shebab and cutting off charcoal exports, one of their key revenue sources.