16 November 2021

Uganda’s capital Kampala rocked by two explosions

16 November 2021

Two loud explosions have rocked Uganda’s capital Kampala, sparking chaos and confusion as people fled what is widely believed to have been co-ordinated attacks.

One blast was near a police station and another on a street near the parliamentary building, said witnesses.

The explosion near parliament appeared to hit a building housing an insurance company and the subsequent fire engulfed cars parked outside. Some legislators were seen evacuating the precincts of the parliamentary building nearby, according to national broadcaster UBC.

At least 24 people have been taken to hospital with injuries sustained in the blasts, said Emmanuel Ainebyoona, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health. Four are critically injured.

(Hajarah Nalwadda/AP) (AP)

A video posted online showed a plume of white smoke rising from the blast scene near the police station.

Police did not immediately comment, and it was not clear if the explosions were bomb attacks.

Ugandan officials have been urging vigilance after a string of bombings in recent weeks.

One person was killed and at least seven wounded in an explosion at a restaurant in a suburb of Kampala on October 23.

Another explosion two days later on a passenger bus killed only the suicide bomber, according to police.

Even before those attacks, the UK Government had updated its Uganda travel advisory to say extremists “are very likely to try to carry out attacks”.

(Hajarah Nalwadda/AP) (AP)

The Allied Democratic Forces, an affiliate of the so-called Islamic State group in central Africa, claimed the attack on the restaurant.

That group has long been opposed to the rule of President Yoweri Museveni, a US security ally who was the first African leader to deploy peacekeepers in Somalia to protect the federal government from the extremist group al-Shabab.

In retaliation over Uganda’s deployment of troops to Somalia, the group carried out attacks in 2010 that killed at least 70 people who had assembled in public places in Kampala to watch a World Cup football game.

But the Allied Democratic Forces, with its local roots, has proved more of a headache to Mr Museveni.

The group was established in the early 1990s by Ugandan Muslims who said they had been sidelined by Mr Museveni’s policies. At the 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 killed in a frontier town near the Congo border.

A Ugandan military assault later forced the rebels into eastern Congo, where many rebel groups are able to roam free because the central government has limited control there.

Reports of an alliance between the Allied Democratic Forces and IS first emerged in 2019, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks the online activities of extremist organisations.

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