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Uganda gov't down plays new terror threats by Somali militant group

07-16-2010 15:28 BJT

KAMPALA, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The Ugandan government on Thursday downplayed the latest threats by a Somali militant group that the recent bomb blast here that killed 74 people were just a prelude.

Fred Opolot, the government spokesperson also executive director of the government owned Uganda Media Center, told Xinhua in an interview that the latest threats are rhetoric, warning that the Al Shabaab, which claimed responsibility of the three blasts Sunday night, will be pursued.

"The Al Shabaab can say what they want but certainly the Uganda government has the responsibility to ensure that the country is peaceful and indeed to ensure that such terrorist groups do not infiltrate into the country," he said, noting that all security agencies in the country are on high alert.

"Should the Al Shabaab instigate any attacks in Uganda, just be assured that they will be followed and arrested," he said, stressing that the Ugandan government is absolutely serious about the security of its people. Three bomb explosions tore a huge crowd watching the World Cup final at Kyandondo Rugby Club in a suburb east of Kampala and an Ethiopian restaurant, south of Kampala, killing at least 74 people and leaving over 70 injured.

The spiritual leader of the Al Shabaab, Sheikh Muqtar Abdelrahman Abu Zubeyr in an audio tape posted on the group's website said that the blasts were just the beginning of attacks on Uganda for deploying its peacekeeping troops in Somalia.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday vowed to launch an offensive both in Uganda and Somalia against the Al Shabaab for the weekend attacks.

He said the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia would be stepped up to 20,000 troops from the current 4, 300 which are deployed by Uganda and Burundi.

Meanwhile government has described the increased reports of bombs scares in the capital Kampala as a good sign that the public is vigilant and encourage some public areas to be more restricted with the security.

"It's incredibly important that the public itself are vigilant. If people are not aware of or conscious of their security needs are there by themselves that could be very dangerous. But the fact that they are reporting some objects they don't understand I think that is a good sign," said Opolot.

"For certain restricted public areas like bars, clubs, churches and so forth, the government encourage the owners of such venues to ensure there is reasonable security. The metal detectors are encouraged to be bought by the proprietors and also do the minimal checks of their customers or clients," he added. According to Opolot, public announcements and leaflets are going to be distributed to increase public awareness. "By next week the police will make such constant announcement over radio," he said.

Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Xinhua

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