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Uganda, Sudan Downplay US Warning Of Possible Attack On Sudan-Uganda Flights

  • Douglas Mpuga

The United States says "regional extremists" may be targeting Air Uganda flights between Southern Sudan and Uganda.

In a statement, the United States embassy says it had information that US travelers faced a potential threat between Juba in Sudan and the Ugandan capital, Kampala. But both Sudanese and Ugandan authorities deny the threat is serious.

The spokesman for the Ugandan army, Lt. Col. Felix Kulaigye told VOA that he was surprised the US had issued the warning at this time as the intelligence had been known since early December.

“As far as we know, in the Ugandan security circles, this is old information,” he said, “we got this information from our friends in Juba in early December.”

Lt. Col. Kulaigye said a number of security precautions had been taken since then on the planes and at the airport. “They didn’t even share that information with us,” he said

The U.S. embassy did not name the ‘regional extremists’ but said it had “received information indicating a desire by regional extremists to conduct a deadly attack on board Air Uganda aircraft” on the Juba to Entebbe route.

The Uganda army spokesman said, “As far as we are concerned the only threat we know is from Al Shabaab [an Islamist insurgency group in Somalia in the ongoing war there].

He said they (Al Shabaab) had threatened to attack Kampala and Bujumbura in Burundi during the Christmas season. “We have been on alert since the nineties because we were the first victims of terrorisms in the region.”

Kulaigye assured the traveling public in the region to continue with their normal business as the Uganda government was aware of the threat. “Our airport is very secure. We have done all that is required to make it safe to fly but as you know terrorism has no face. So a terrorist can filter through the security network.

Lt. Col. Kulaigye noted the importance of involving all stakeholders in the fight against terrorism. “In this particular case, when we got this threat in December we involved Air Uganda and shared information with them. The people, especially travelers, have been alerted about this threat and indeed they are on the lookout.”

He said Ugandan authorities are coordinating with “our colleagues in Kenya and Tanzania – with their counterterrorism organization; we are on the lookout.”