Twin blasts within minutes in an attack blamed on Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel group.
Two explosions rocked Uganda’s capital, Kampala, killing three on the spot and other four who died at Mulago Hospital, a nearby referral. This happened early on Tuesday, in what Ugandan police described as co-ordinated attacks by extremists, believed to be linked to Isis.
Three suicide bombers also died in the blasts, police said. The explosions caused chaos in Kampala as terrified business men and residents fled the city’s Centre.
More than 33 people have been injured, including five in critical condition, according to police spokesperson Fred Enanga. However, among the five taken to hospital in critical condition, four eventually died on Wednesday making the number of the dead to rise to seven.
“The bomb threats are still active, especially from suicide attackers”, said Enanga, blaming the blasts on Allied Democratic Forces, an extremist group that is affiliated to the Islamic State group.
Isis claimed responsibility for the blasts, in a statement on its Telegram channels.
The twin blasts occurred within three minutes of each other, according to witnesses. Both were carried out by attackers carrying explosives. A possible attack on a third target was foiled by police, who pursued and disarmed a suspected suicide bomber, Enanga said.
The two explosions, one was near a police station and the other on a street near the parliamentary building, according to police and witnesses. The explosion near parliament appeared to hit closer to a building housing an insurance company and the subsequent fire engulfed cars parked outside.
Body parts were seen in the street and later some lawmakers were seen evacuating the parliamentary building nearby, some of whom first blamed the police for delayed response.
People rushed to leave the city in the aftermath of the attacks, many on passenger motorcycles, as police cordoned off wide areas near the blast scenes, footage posted on social media showed.
Late on Tuesday, Museveni called the attackers “pigs” and said they were part of the “ADF group that attacked” a Ugandan government minister, General Katumba Wamala, in an attempted assassination in June. The attackers wounded him and killed his daughter plus the driver.
“They have exposed themselves when we are more ready for urban terrorism. They will perish,” said Museveni.
Ugandan officials have been urging vigilance in the wake of a string of bomb explosions in recent weeks. One person was killed, and at least seven others wounded in an explosion at a pork restaurant in Komamboga, a suburb of Kampala on 23rd October. Another explosion two days later on a passenger bus killed only the “said” suicide bomber. This is according to police.
The Allied Democratic Forces which the police spokesperson says to be responsible for these attacks has long been opposed to the rule of the longest serving president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni. Museveni is a US security ally who was the first African president to deploy peacekeepers in Somalia to protect the federal government from the extremist group al-Shabaab. In retaliation, the group carried out attacks on Uganda.
The most lethal attack in Uganda’s recent history was staged during the 2010 football World Cup finals, when the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab bombed several bars in Kampala, killing over 70 people.
However, the Allied Democratic Forces, with its local roots has become a more pressing challenge to Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.
The group was established in the early 1990s by Uganda Muslims who said they had been sidelined by Museveni’s policies. At that time, the rebel group staged deadly terrorist attacks in Ugandan villages as well as in the capital, including a 1998 attack in which 80 students were massacred in a town near Congo border.
In 2019, an alliance between the Allied Democratic Forces and Islamic State emerged, according the SITE intelligence Group. Remember, Uganda is still the major supplier of troops to Somalia to fight Al-Shabaab.