The United States has urged its citizens to reconsider travelling to Uganda after the terror alerts were issued by the latter’s security agencies.
In a brief statement released on Monday, the US Embassy in Kampala told its citizens in Uganda to remain alert and avoid large public gatherings.
“We are following press reports and police statements of an improvised explosive device (IED) discovered at a Kampala-area church in the Rubaga Division on September 3 which police located and defused along with unconfirmed reports of potential additional devices,” the statement read.
“We remind you that the US Department of State’s travel advisory for Uganda is at a Level 3 (reconsider travel) for terrorism. There remains a threat of terrorist attacks in Uganda and throughout the region. As anyone can be a victim, US citizens should remain alert and avoid large public gatherings,” it added.
On Sunday, the Uganda Police Force revealed that they had arrested a suicide bomber as the suspect attempted to enter Miracle Centre Cathedral in Rubaga Division, Kampala City.
Police said an IED was recovered and detonated using controlled explosion method.
A dry battery (D and K-1987), a detonator card, a container of powder, 57 four-inch nails, yellow cell tape, an Itel phone battery and its housing and burnt parts of a black bag were recovered.
Police said five other IEDs were recovered by the security agents in Rubaga Division and six people have been arrested.
In a statement sent to Monitor on Monday, police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the arrests and counter-terror operation “has not significantly changed the security level in the country”.
“A threat environment still exists and as always, we have taken measures to respond and mitigate all forms of terror threats. Sunday's incident is also another reminder to Ugandans and other citizens in the country that terrorism is real, which calls for vigilance as they go shopping, places of worship and parties,” Enanga said.
The US categorises security threats in four levels. Level 3 is the second worst situation. Other countries with level 3 categorisation include Nicaragua, Pakistan, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau.
In July, the United Kingdom issued a terror alert stating that terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Uganda.
The UK was criticised by many Ugandan authorities for issuing the alert, saying it was intended to paint a bad image of the country and discourage tourists and investors from visiting.
However, the Ugandan security authorities two months later warned that the threat is real, adding that they are doing everything in their means to prevent it.
In February, the United States government issued a counterterrorism report in which it indicated that Uganda was vulnerable to terror attacks.
“The vulnerability is at least in part due to porous borders, corruption, a lack of trust and information sharing among disparate security services, diversion of security force capabilities to focus on Opposition politicians, an overly militarised approach to combating violent extremism within Uganda, and the security forces’ poor relations with local communities and civil society,” US Department of State report stated.