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Uganda warns of attacks on bombings anniversary

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 7 Jul 2011 17:49 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Attack likelihood "high", police say

* Bombs killed 79 in capital last July

By Barry Malone

KAMPALA, July 7 (Reuters) - Uganda police warned on Thursday that Somali militants may be planning to attack the country on the anniversary of twin suicide bombings that killed 79 people in the east African nation's capital city Kampala last July.

The blasts tore through two bars on July 11 while people were watching the World Cup soccer final on television, marking the first attacks on foreign soil by Somalia's al-Qaeda-allied al Shabaab militant group.

Al Shabaab has threatened to carry out more attacks until Uganda and Burundi withdraw their troops from an African Union force protecting a weak and constantly under siege United Nations-backed government in Somalia.

"We have issued an alert to the public on the anniversary," police spokeswoman, Judith Nabakoba, told Reuters.

Police had also received intelligence from foreign agencies that al Shabaab may be planning another attack in the country.

Nabakoba said the rebel group could strike between Thursday and through next week. Security has been stepped up around the capital and at the country's borders, she said.

"The public needs to be more vigilant and suspicious," Nabakoba said. "Security needs to be strong at hotels, bars and anywhere where big crowds normally gather."

Since the July attacks Uganda has defiantly committed to sending more troops to Somalia and President Yoweri Museveni has deemed al Shabaab "idiots".

The militants have said ordinary Ugandans are now legitimate targets for re-electing Museveni -- who they say is an "invader" -- in a disputed February poll.

The African Union force says it controls more than 60 percent of the Somali capital Mogadishu. Horn of Africa experts say its is all that prevents al Shabaab from toppling an administration plagued by internal rifts and corruption.

(Editing by James Macharia and Elizabeth Fullerton)

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