Islamic state claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed at least one person in Uganda’s capital Kampala on Saturday night, the militant group said in a statement posted in an affiliated Telegram channel late on Sunday.
The group said that some of its members detonated an explosive device in a bar where “members and spies of the Crusader Ugandan government were gathering” in Kampala.
The bomb, packed with nails and shrapnel, targeted a pork restaurant on the outskirts of the capital, police said on Sunday.
Information gathered indicated that three men, disguised as customers, visited the restaurant, placed a polythene bag under a table and left moments before the explosion, police said.
The explosion killed a 20-year-old waitress and injured three people, two of whom were in critical condition, police said, adding all indications suggest an act of domestic terror.
President Yoweri Museveni said the attack “seems to be a terrorist act”.
“The information I have is that 3 people came and left a package in kaveera (plastic bag) which later on exploded,” he said in a tweet.
Of recent Islamic State has been claiming responsibility for all atrocities committed by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) signaling fusion between the two terror organizations.
It should therefore be known that ADF has since become Islamic State–Central Africa Province. On March 10, the US State Department branded the ADF a “foreign terrorist organisation” known as “ISIS-DRC” or “Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen.”
In September 2020, Musa Baluku, who served as a senior Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Islamic legal official before consolidating power following Jamal Mukulu’s 2015 arrest, stated in one propaganda video that the ADF had ceased to exist and had incorporated itself into the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province, marking the ADF’s most explicit attempt to align with the Islamic State. Musa Baluku is the current leader of ADF.
Baluku leads a senior advisory council that unites the ADF’s executive and judiciary organs, on which he serves as the “supreme judge.”
Following the 2015 arrest of Jamil Mukulu, the ADF has released increasing amounts of propaganda that reflects ideological alignment with the Islamic State.
A June 2021 report from the UN Group of Experts on the DRC, meanwhile, could not substantiate “direct support or command and control of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” with respect to the ADF. The Islamic State’s core propaganda apparatus regularly claims responsibility for attacks in the DRC.
The UN Group of Experts on the DRC, however, has noted discrepancies in attack locations, times, and casualty numbers contained in such claims that raise questions about the depth of the relationship between the ADF and the Islamic State.
In 2010, the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab killed dozens of people in Kampala in a bomb attack, saying it was punishing Uganda for deploying troops in Somalia.
The explosion comes one week after the UK government issued an alert about terrorism in Uganda.
It warned British citizens in the East African country – where attacks of this kind are rare – that “terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks”. It advised them to be vigilant at public places, including restaurants and bars.
The United Kingdom has warned that terrorists could carry out an attack in Uganda, but police said there was no need to elevate the threat levels.
In a statement on Thursday three days before the attack, the UK government called on their nationals to be extremely vigilant about their security “especially in crowded and public places like hotels, transport hubs, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events”.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack,” the statement reads.
Uganda Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed the presence of sleeper cells in the country, adding that efforts to dismantle them are ongoing.
“Despite the emerging sleeper cells our terror alert levels are not elevated yet,” Mr Enanga said.
Although the UK did not mention which terrorist group is behind the threat, Uganda security agencies recently accused the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels of attempting to carry out terror attacks.