KAMPALA - The United States has warned of a "specific terrorist threat" to Kampala, saying a group of attackers were looking to strike the Ugandan capital this month or in March but without identifying who was behind the threat.
Uganda is a close security ally of the U.S. in East Africa and its troops form the backbone of the African Union (AU)-mandated peacekeeping force battling Somalia's Islamist Al Shabaab militants.
Al Shabaab fighters killed at least 67 people in September during a raid on the Westgate shopping mall in neighbouring Kenya and the group has repeatedly threatened to strike Uganda unless it withdraws its troops from Somalia.
Twin bombings by al Shabaab in Kampala in July 2010 killed at least 79 people watching the soccer World Cup final.
"The threat information indicates that a group of attackers is possibly in place and ready to strike targets inside Kampala in February or March," said a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Kampala posted on its website on Monday evening.
According to the statement, the Uganda National Museum is a potential target and the United States had urged its citizens to avoid the site and "other crowded public places and/or events that are potential targets to terrorists".
In October, the embassy said it was assessing intelligence reports that a "Westgate-style attack may soon occur in Kampala", prompting Ugandan authorities to heighten a "terror" alert to maximum for the first time since the 2010 bombings.
U.S. Embassy Kampala, Uganda
Security Message for U.S. Citizens:
Potential for a Terrorist Attack in Kampala Feb/Mar 2014
February 10, 2014
The U.S. Embassy has received information regarding a specific terrorist threat to Kampala. The threat information indicates that a group of attackers is possibly in place and ready to strike targets inside Kampala in February or March. There are indications that the Ugandan National Museum is one of the potential targets. As potential targets can change, the Embassy cautions U.S. citizens to avoid this site and other crowded public places and/or events that are potential targets to terrorists.
Should you find yourself near the site of an attack, attempt to leave the area immediately, away from the sounds of gunfire and explosions, if safe to do so. If unable to leave, go to the safest location you can find, stay hidden, and avoid attracting attention to yourself.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Uganda enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
You can stay in touch and get updates by checking the U.S. Embassy Kampala website. You can also get global updates at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.
Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well, or you can download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Google play store, to have travel information at your fingertips.
Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The U.S. Embassy is located at Plot 1577 Ggaba Road. Contact information for the U.S. Embassy in Kampala is: phone number +256 (0) (414) 306 001 or +256 (0) (414) 259 791, fax +256 (0) (414) 258 451, and email KampalaUSCitizen@state.gov.