Uganda warns of Somali Shabaab attacks

2014-03-18 13:22
Al-Shabaab fighters march with their weapons during military exercises in Somalia. (Mohamed Sheikh Nor, AP/File)

Al-Shabaab fighters march with their weapons during military exercises in Somalia. (Mohamed Sheikh Nor, AP/File)

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Kampala - Uganda warned on Tuesday that Somalia's al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgents were planning to use fuel tankers as bombs, one day after Kenya thwarted a "massive" car bomb attack.

Both Uganda and Kenya are key contributors of troops to the African Union force fighting the Shabaab in Somalia, and the Islamists have carried out major attacks in both countries in retaliation in the past.

"We have received credible information to the effect that al-Shabaab are planning to blow up fuel trucks in Kampala to cause extensive damage to people and property," Ugandan police chief Kale Kayihura said in a statement.

"The public is asked to be very vigilant and help the police and report any suspicious movement or activity".

Shabaab bombers killed at least 76 people in Uganda's capital Kampala in 2010.

On Monday, Kenyan police arrested two men driving a vehicle packed with explosives in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa.

Top Kenyan coastal government official Nelson Marwa said Tuesday the two men arrested had been preparing a "massive attack".

Foreign special forces were part of the operation to stop them, he said.

September massacre

"The two were tracked from Somalia by both Kenyan and foreign forces," top local government official Nelson Marwa said on Tuesday.

Kenya has suffered a string of attacks blamed on the Islamist insurgents, including the September massacre in Nairobi's Westgate mall in which at least 67 people were killed.

The group said the carnage was retribution for Kenya's invasion of southern Somalia two years ago.

The UN-backed African Union force in Somalia this month launched a fresh offensive against Shabaab bases, with the gunmen largely fleeing ahead of the assault, only to later stage guerrilla attacks.

The UN envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay said the offensive would be "the most significant and geographically extensive military advance" since AU troops started operations in 2007.

But Kay also warned the security situation in the capital Mogadishu had "deteriorated" in the last three months.

Recent Shabaab attacks in the capital have targeted key areas of government or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities that they are winning the war against them.
Read more on:    un  |  al-shabaab  |  al-qaeda  |  au  |  kenya  |  somalia  |  uganda  |  east africa
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