Ugandan police have successfully thwarted a plot orchestrated by Islamic State-linked militants aiming to bomb churches in the central Butambala district, as revealed by President Yoweri Museveni. This dangerous scheme involved two bombs that were cleverly concealed as gifts, attached to public address systems, and dispatched to pastors. Fortunately, vigilant members of the public grew suspicious of these devices and promptly alerted the authorities, preventing a potential catastrophe.
President Museveni attributed the sinister plot to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militant group known for its ties to the Islamic State. The ADF emerged in the 1990s, driven by grievances against President Museveni’s government, which it accused of mistreating Muslims. After suffering significant setbacks at the hands of the Ugandan army in 2001, the ADF relocated to North Kivu province in neighboring DR Congo. In 2016, the group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and has since been held responsible for a series of deadly attacks in Uganda, including the tragic killing of over 40 individuals, primarily students, at a boarding school in June.
According to President Museveni, the militants had devised a plan to detonate two bombs within churches situated in Kibibi, a location roughly 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, Kampala. Fortunately, these dangerous devices were reported to the police and successfully defused, thus averting the catastrophe. President Museveni emphasized the importance of not accepting gifts from strangers, given the evolving threats.
On the same day, President Museveni reported that Ugandan forces had conducted air strikes targeting four ADF positions in DR Congo. While these operations led to what appeared to be the elimination of a significant number of terrorists, the president issued a caution that the ADF was re-entering Uganda with the intent of committing random acts of terrorism.
Back in September, Ugandan police had already prevented a bomb attack in one of the largest churches in Kampala. A man suspected of attempting to detonate a bomb among the congregation was apprehended by the police.
Citizens Urged to be Diligent
The bombings, which police had said were the work of “domestic terrorists” linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group active in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, followed two attacks last month which Uganda also blamed on the ADF.
Investigations were ongoing, with police in pursuit of suspects, after foiling a third bombing on Tuesday and shooting dead the attacker.
In a statement late Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni urged citizens to “maintain vigilance of checking people at entry points to bus parks, hotels, churches, mosques, markets”.
Ugandan police last month arrested a number of alleged ADF operatives and warned that extremists were believed to be plotting a new attack on “major installations”
The arrests followed two blasts last month — a bus explosion near Kampala that wounded many people and a bombing at a roadside eatery in the capital that killed one woman.
Uganda has also blamed the group for a foiled bomb attack in August on the funeral of an army commander who led a major offensive against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.