By Patrick Jaramogi
SECURITY has been beefed up in Kisenyi, a Kampala suburb with a big Somali population, following threats by the al Shabaab Islamists to attack Kampala.
The New Vision yesterday established that a joint force from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and the Joint anti-terrorism squad (JAAT) have deployed.
The hardline al Shabaab insurgents last week vowed to strike the capitals of Uganda and Burundi in revenge for rocket attacks that killed at least 30 people in Mogadishu on Thursday.
â€œWe are not taking these threats lightly, that is why we are beefing up security. We shall, as promised by President Museveni, repulse any attacks by the insurgents,â€ said Lt. Timothy Tumusime, the civil- military relations officer.
Tumusime, who addressed a security meeting attended by leading Somali leaders and clan members in Kisenyi yesterday, urged the Somalis to report any suspicious characters immediately.
â€œI am glad that you are now united. It will be very easy for you to fight a common enemy,â€ he said.
He said all mosques in the country and other possible targets were under surveillance.
The elders, some of whom fought in the Somali war, warned the al Shabaab not to attack Kampala.
â€œThose threats wonâ€™t work. We shall identify them and hand them over to security authorities. The al Shabaab will use none of us to cause mayhem,â€ said Hussein Hassan, the Somali community chairperson.
He said following the threats, a countrywide registration of all Somalis had started to identify new arrivals.
â€œWe are registering all Somalis with the help of security agencies and we are issuing cards. Any Somali who doesnâ€™t register with us and is arrested should not complain,â€ he warned.
The over 30 elders vowed to crush any militant who infiltrates Kisenyi.
â€œWe ran away from the war and left them there. We are now living in peace. We are ready to die for peace,â€ said Roble Abdulayi, the Somali community deputy chairperson.
He urged the security agencies to use the Somalis at the various border and airport entry points to identify the insurgents.
â€œIt is us the Somalis who know these people. Most penetrate through the various porous borders at Busia and Malaba. Use us to track them,â€ said Roble.
President Museveni on Friday warned the Islamist rebels against attacking Uganda.
â€œI would advise them to concentrate on solving their own problems. If they decide to attack us, they will pay heavily,â€ he told journalists at the end of the African Union summit in Kampala.
He warned that Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia would attack the rebels if they acted on their threat.
The rebel group, which wants to topple the Somalia government and impose its own strict version of Islamic law, is accused of being al Qaedaâ€™s proxy.
Burundi and Uganda have about 4,300 peacekeepers in the Somali capital as part of the African Unionâ€™s force, dubbed AMISOM.
In a separate interview with Reuters in Kampala, Somali foreign minister Ali Jama Ahmed said more AU troops would be sent soon to boost AMISOM to its planned strength of 8,000.
â€œWe expect our African brothers to complete the deployment of an additional 2,800 in the coming two months,â€ Ahmed said.
â€œThere are some countries that have indicated that they will be sending peacekeepers and are now being trained by the UN.â€
Several African nations had agreed to send troops for AMISOM but have so far failed to do so, some saying they are put off by the incessant violence.
AMISOM troops come under near-daily attacks from the rebels. Last month, the al Shabaab militants hit the AMISOM headquarters in Mogadishu with a twin suicide car bombing that killed 17 peacekeepers.