Two of the suspects are of Somalia origin while the rest are Kenyan nationals. They were arrested yesterday at about 5:00pm from their hide out at Sky Guest House next to Bank of Baroda in Mbale town following a tip off from the lodge management.
A police source who declined to be named because he is not allowed to talk to the media said that they all have valid Kenyan passports. He identified them as 41-year-old Mohamed Billow and Hussein Ibrahim Abudie who is aged 46. The Kenyan nationals are 48-year-old Zachariah Joel Owor and 60-year-old Martin Obambo Ludende.
It is not clear when they entered Uganda because when contacted the hotel management declined to comment on the matter claiming that they are under strict directive from the police not to divulge details about the suspects.
The police source, however, said their passports indicate that they entered Uganda through Busia on 9th September 2014 and stayed in Kampala before moving to Mbale.
The suspects reportedly told police they had just come to Uganda and that they were in Mbale to buy maize produce. According to the source, the lodge attendants became suspicious after the suspects stayed indoors up to late evening when they come out. The attendants told police that they were most of the times making phone calls in Kishwaili.
Diana Nandawula, the Elgon Regional Police spokesperson, confirmed the arrest but declined to divulge details. The suspects are being held at Mbale Central Police station waiting to be transferred to Kampala for interrogation.
Last weekend, Gen Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police,announced that a group of Al Shabaab terrorists had entered Uganda. The group is suspected to be on a revenge move following the death of their leader Ahmed Godane alias Emiri who was killed two weeks ago.
The arrest follows the last Saturday incident in which the security agencies in a successful joint operation in Kampala foiled a terrorist attack. Police raided what was described as a suspected Al- Shabaab cell in the downtown Mengo- Kisenyi suburb that was planning a terror attack. Nineteen suspects were arrested in the operation.
Seven more suspects were arrested on Monday. Police also seized a vehicle, a Toyota Noah with South Sudan number plates, which was reportedly loaded with powerful explosives that were to be used in the attacks in Kampala.The well-coordinated operation involved a number of security agencies under the Joint Anti-Terrorism Unit.
According to the sources privy to the investigations, one suspect said to have been in charge of the car was subsequently arrested on Monday in another swoop on Mengo-Kisenyi, a densely populated city suburb with a sizeable Somali community. It was not established whether the suspect arrested on Mondayin connection with the vehicle is Adan Garaar, a high ranking Al-Shabaab militant believed to have been coordinating the foiled attack. Garaar eluded security on Saturday.