Kampala, Uganda was placed on a high security alert after Al-Shabaab Miltants – believed to be the mastermind behind the terrorist attack in Kenya – are believed to be planning terrorist attacks in the capital just days after the US Embassy warned of an attack similar to the one in Kenya last month.
On September 21, gunmen believed to be from the Al-Shabaab militants attacked Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi leaving at least 67 people dead and up to 240 others injured.
Almost a month after the attack the United States Embassy in Kampala warned this week of a possible ‘Westgate-like” attack on Kampala in their latest alert to its citizens in Uganda.
The emergency alert released on Tuesday says the embassy is assessing reports that indicate a potential terror strike on Kampala in the near future. The embassy says they cannot confirm the timing or location of the attack but are currently sharing all information they have with the security in Kampala. The alert comes barely days after Uganda police published the face of a leading terrorist identified as Muller Ahmed Khaled who apparently sneaked into the country.
And now shopping malls are stepping up security measures. Benard Nzau, the Nakumatt country director, told RedPepper Online that their security has been elevated compared to the past with both police and private security collaborating to ensure the level of security is at its best.
Nzau says the malls will take precautions and be vigilant on people entering their facilities and also check on situations around the business area to monitor the activity. He said as business men they lack the expertise but believe that the national security will do its best to protect and safeguard people’s lives.
Meanwhile in other shopping malls around the town, business has gone down by about 40% as a result of the recent communication on terror alertness following the attacks in Kenya.
A source working with one of the Shopping malls in Kampala who preferred anonymity stated that more security had been recruited and planted in different areas close to the shopping centres. He also proposed that more training should be conducted in as far as fighting terrorists is concerned since terrorists have different trends of operation.
Meanwhile, Police has advised members of the public to avoid places whose proprietors are not serious and do not follow the right security measures of checking and investigating. Ibin Senkumbi, the Kampala Metropolitan spokesperson, says police is coming up with a measure to check and ensure safety in crowded areas of the market, bus parks and shopping arcades.
Police has extensively deployed in the city with over six counter-terrorism officers on all shopping malls in Kampala. Security checks have also been heightened at major public places to avert a possible attack.
Al-Shabaab have on several occasions warned that they would strike Uganda again for its continued participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia geared towards pushing the militant group from their strongholds in the war-torn country.
Terror attacks in Kampala in July 2010 claimed 79 people and hundreds others were injured when Al-Shabab militants targeted revelers who were watching the finals of the FIFA World Cup.