Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Deadly twin bomb blasts in Uganda’s capital Kampala earlier last week drew worldwide condemnation, with different capitals pledging to stand with Uganda in the fight against the resurgence of terror attacks that have regional connotations.
Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an affiliate of the Islamic State in central Africa, claimed the suicide attacks that left seven people dead, including three suicide bombers, and 37 other people injured. Similar attacks were carried out in central Uganda last month, although they were of a lesser magnitude.
Ugandan security agencies argue that the attacks bear the hallmarks of the ADF, which is holed up in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
President Yoweri Museveni, while briefing the country on the security situation on Saturday, said the ADF has links in neighboring Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and South Africa.
Museveni said the ADF is taking advantage of the lawlessness in eastern DRC to mine gold and cut timber, which they sell to finance their activities.
The ADF sleeper cells in Uganda, according to police, are coordinated by their commanders in eastern DRC, which acts as a base of their operations in the region.
“From our analysis, they are attacking soft targets, which are many and quite difficult to defend,” police said in a report issued after the first attacks late last month.
“We have further established that they have been recruiting, radicalizing and researching on how to build an improvised explosive device, and how to carry out attacks in Uganda,” the report said, adding that money for terrorism financing is also channeled through fuel stations and real estate dealers.
Museveni said his government is in talks with neighboring DRC in efforts to curtail the operations of ADF in the vast central African country.
“We are discussing with the Congo government, we shall get them (ADF),” Museveni said, noting that he is also in touch with his other African counterparts to map out ways of dealing with the ADF.
“The presidents contacted me from all parts of Africa and I was telling them the situation, and we are really going to solve this problem of ADF,” he said.
He argued that previously, governments have allowed the Ugandan military to pursue rebels who have crossed into their territory. He cited the case of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, a Ugandan outfit that had crossed into neighboring South Sudan and later northeastern DRC. The Uganda military pursued the rebels with the endorsement of the Congolese and South Sudan government.
The DRC government has also previously allowed Uganda to pursue the ADF in its territory in the late 1990s.
Museveni argued that the military now has the capacity to fight urban terrorism, which is now the new front of the ADF.
He urged the ADF insurgents to surrender or face death wherever they are hiding.
“In the meantime, the public should be vigilant until all of them are arrested. They will continue to pose a short-term danger if we are not vigilant,” the president said.