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​​EU, IOM boost police capabilities to fight terrorism

By Nelson Kiva

Added 10th June 2019 09:18 AM

The latest terror alert was issued by Police in the run-up to the Uganda Martyrs celebrations on June 3.

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(Left to right) Eng. Terah Kaggwa demonstrating how the early warning system works as Deputy Director counter terrorism, Wilson Omoding Otuna and Patrick Mafabi from Ministry of Internal Affairs look on during the launch of early warning system at Kabalagala Police Station on June 6, 2019. (Photo by Nancy Nanyonga)

The latest terror alert was issued by Police in the run-up to the Uganda Martyrs celebrations on June 3.

The European Union (EU) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have boosted the capabilities of the Uganda Police Force to fight terrorism.
The threat of terrorism on Uganda has been persistent since the twin Kampala bombings in 2010 that leftover 70 people dead, while several others were injured and permanently maimed.
The Al-Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for the attacks, accusing Uganda of deploying the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) to prop up the UN-backed Government in Mogadishu.
The latest terror alert was issued by Police in the run-up to the Uganda Martyrs celebrations on June 3.
An EU-funded early warning mechanism (system) against radicalization and extremism was at the end of last week launched in Kampala.
Three early warning centres have been set up in Kampala at Old Kampala Police Station, Kawempe Division Police headquarters and Kabalagala Police Station.
The work modalities of the system according to Dorothy Ogolla, a senior project assistant IOM, members of the community will be able to call through a toll-free line to report any suspected acts of radicalization and violent extremism.
“Someone will be able to call and be attended to by a community liaison officer at the police station and respond appropriately to the challenge.
If you suspect there acts of radicalization in Kisenyi or Kabalagala, you can secretly call and report the matter,” he said.
The Police and other security agencies, Ogolla noted that Police was acting alone to avert the threat of terrorism, but the initiative is intended at ensuring that police work with the communities.
“We have set the centres at the big police stations which manage other wide areas. For instance, Kampala is close to Kisenyi and can even cover central Kampala up to Wandegeya.
Then Kawempe can cover Bwaise where we actually work,” Ogolla noted.
However, the system is not only limited to only areas of target, Ogolla said someone can call from any part of the country and report any suspicious acts of radicalization.
The entire system (early warning system) operates one number to call on all the three centres and is managed by MTN Uganda.
“We are yet to release it to the public because it is currently detached with only the computers, inverters and other system equipment at the stations,” she said.
The partnership of Uganda Police Force, EU and IOM to fight radicalization started with a project titled, strengthening social cohesion and stability in slum populations (SSCOs) in 2017.
The project intended to address root causes of radicalization and violent extremism targeted slums of Kampala including Bwaise, Kisenyi, Katwe and Kabalagala.   
It has also been extended to the Busoga region, which is also regarded as more vulnerable to radicalization.
The commissioner of police in charge community policing, Hadijah Namutebi, appealed on the general public to use the system to provide Police with useful information to combat any acts that may culminate into terrorism.
“If you identify any signs that someone may transform into a terrorist, please use this line which will be provided through the media and the community leaders to report to Police for possible action,” she appealed.
Namutebi disclosed that over 170 police officers have been trained and equipped with skills to respond to the information and preventing the possible acts of terrorism and other violent acts.
The Police according to Namutebi, has also been undertaking other initiatives such as sensitization of the public through community policing on how to support police to deal with acts of radicalization.

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