The terrorist attack in Kampala, Uganda

The terrorist attack in Kampala, Uganda
The terrorist attack in Kampala, Uganda

On Tuesday morning there were two massive explosions in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, one near a police station, the other in a street near the parliament building. The explosions occurred within three minutes of each other. Ugandan officials said several bombs were found in other parts of the city and police spokesman Fred Enanga said the threat is not over yet, and there may be more suicide bombers. There is still no complete information on the incident, but it seems that it was a terrorist attack carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a faction affiliated with the Islamic State.

The news agency AFP wrote that three people were killed in the attack, and more than thirty were injured. However, the death toll is expected to rise.

UBC national television told of parliamentarians fleeing the building and Associated Press of “people who are trying to get out of town quickly”. In general, it seems that the attack has caused a lot of confusion and fear in the population of the Ugandan capital.

It has been a few weeks since the level of attention for possible terrorist attacks was very high. The UK government had recently updated its travel directions for British citizens saying it was “very likely” that extremists were attempting to “carry out attacks” in Uganda. There had recently been two attacks in the capital: one on October 23 in a restaurant, which resulted in the death of a person, and the other two days later, carried out by a suicide bomber on a bus. The first had been claimed by the Allied Democratic Forces.

The Allied Democratic Forces are a group founded in the early 1990s by Muslim Ugandans who claimed to have been discriminated against by the policies of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is still in office today. In the following years they were responsible for terrorist attacks in several cities of the country, as well as in the capital: in 1998 they killed 80 students in a city near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. After an offensive by the Ugandan army, the group was forced to retreat mostly to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it could continue to operate by exploiting the little control that the Congolese government exercised over that area.

For a long time, the Allied Democratic Forces opposed the Museveni regime, an ally of the United States and the first African leader to send peacekeeping forces to neighboring Somalia to defend the Somali federal government from attacks by the terrorist group al Shabaab. In retaliation for sending troops, in 2010 al Shabaab carried out an attack in Kampala, hitting a group of people who were watching a World Cup match: at least 70 people were killed. That was the last major attack in Uganda.

It appears that the Allied Democratic Forces joined ISIS in 2019.

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