Three suicide bombers carried out Kampala twin explosions- police

A man extinguishes fire on cars that burnt following the explosion on November 16, 2021. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

Police have said that the twin explosions that hit Kampala at a police checkpoint and Parliamentary Avenue on Tuesday were carried out by three suicide bombers who died instantly.
Police also said three civilians had been confirmed dead and 33 others injured, although the number of fatalities could be higher than reported so far.

Five of the injured are in critical condition, according to police spokesperson, Commissioner of Police Fred Enanga.
Mr Enanga told journalists in Kampala that the police attack was carried out by one suicide bomber who was captured on CCTV camera carrying a backpack before he detonated it. Two civilians died on the spot and 17 others were injured and evacuated from the scene to the hospital.

A police officer pictured using his phone to record events moments after an explosion went off near the checkpoint of Kampala Central Police Station on November 16, 2021. PHOTO/ RACHEL MABALA

"The first attack occurred near the check point to the Central Police Station, in Kampala at around 10.03am.  The fresh footages on CCTV clearly indicate how a male adult, putting on a black jacket, and carrying a backpack detonated himself.  He died instantly and the spillover effect caused additional injuries to police officers and other civilians who were within a radius of 30 metres.  Two other people have been confirmed dead, while 17 others sustained injuries.  Those injured were within the section covering the point of impact and the front desk area at the Central Police Station,” Mr Enanga said.

The Parliament road attack was conducted by two suicide bombers riding on two boda boda motorcycles. One civilian was killed in the explosion that happened at Raj chambers and Jubilee Insurance offices at Parliamentary Avenue.
“Two suicide bombers were clearly captured, on motorcycles, disguising as boda boda riders.  They detonated the bombs they were carrying on themselves, that killed them instantly,” he added.

Police said the fourth suicide bomber was pursued and arrested in Bwaise, a Kampala suburb after he was shot and disabled by counter terrorism operatives.
“Although three suicide bombers died in the double bomb attacks, our CT response teams managed to pursue a fourth suicide bomb attacker and intercepted him at Bwaise.  They shot and injured him, and immediately after, recovered an unexploded improvised explosive device at Nansana-Katooke, at his home, which the bomb squad, were going to neutralize.  We are now pursuing other members of the terror groups,” CP Enanga added.
The explosions which happened three minutes apart were carried out by suspected domestic terrorists linked to Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) using Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), according to police.

“It clearly shows that the ADF linked radicalized groups, still have a desire to carry out lethal attacks, on soft targets, with suicide attackers and improvised explosive devices. These kinds of threats remain significant because IEDs and suicide bomb jackets can easily be built from common household items found in local markets, retail shops and supermarkets,” Mr Enanga added.

The attacks follow two blasts last month -- a bus explosion in Mpigi District that wounded many people and a bombing at a roadside eatery in Komamboga in the capital Kampala that killed one woman.

Police said last month both those explosions were connected and were carried out by the ADF. 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.

 'It was so loud'

Salim Uhuru, mayor of Kampala Central division, said he was near the police station when he heard the blast.

"It was so loud. I ran towards the police station and saw one policeman I know dead on the ground. His body was scattered like mincemeat," Uhuru said.

Kyle Spencer, the executive director of Uganda's Internet Exchange Point, said that the explosions had sparked panic among many people nearby.

"The road to parliament is closed off, there are people just crying, everyone else is just trying to get away from these areas," he said.

"Everybody is evacuating office buildings and the buildings are locking up and not letting anybody inside."

Parliament cancelled its Tuesday session, asking members to avoid the area "as security forces are working hard to restore order".

The premises were put under tight security, with heavily armed soldiers securing the area as forensics officers in white overalls inspected the blast site for clues.

 'Stand strong'

Opposition leader Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said he was "very sad" about the bombings.

"We should stand strong with each other in such a tough time," the popstar-turned-politician said in a statement.

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".

"Today's breakthrough attacks show that we still need to do more, to pre-empt, penetrate and prevent deadly attacks by domestic extremists in the days to come," police spokesman Enanga said.

The ADF, historically a Ugandan rebel group, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in eastern DRC.

In April 2019, IS began to claim some ADF attacks on social media, presenting the group as its regional branch -- the Islamic State Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.

In March this year the United States officially linked the ADF to IS.

The ADF is considered by experts to be the bloodiest of more than 120 armed groups that roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars a quarter-century ago.

The DRC's Catholic Church says the ADF has killed around 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.

In 2010, twin bombings in Kampala targeting fans watching the World Cup final left 76 people dead, with Al-Shabaab claiming responsibility.

The attack was seen as revenge for Uganda sending troops to Somalia as part of an African Union mission to confront Al-Shabaab.