Ugandan security has been put on an alert following an attack in Mozambique in which the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed its first attack in Mozambique in Central Africa.
The attack on May 28 in Cabo Delgado region in the Mocomia district in Northern Mozambique claimed 16 people.
According to AFP, the incident happened when a Mitsubishi truck carrying passengers and goods was ambushed on a dirt road in the coastal district of Macomia when attackers through home- made explosives into the truck before opening fire.
“Eight people were killed in the vehicle and another seven people were found dead at the scene, a sign that they tried to flee,” a local teacher, whose colleague was killed told AFP.
It is said this was the first attack by insurgents using home-made explosives.
ISIS have since claimed responsibility of the attack saying they had repulsed a Crusader Mozambican Army attack.
This is the first attack claimed by ISIS in Central Africa but the second on the African continent after a similar attack on April 16 at a Congolese army base near the border with Uganda that saw over five soldiers killed.
The attack was at first thought to have been carried out by Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan terrorist group but ISIS in a statement according to the SITE Intelligence group which monitors terrorist groups, claimed responsibility saying their ‘Central Africa Province of the Caliphate ’ affiliate as the one that orchestrated the attack.
The attack puts Uganda on alert since the same jihadist group is said to have entered the East African region through DRC.
When contacted for a comment, UPDF spokesperson, Brig. Richard Karemire said the Ugandan army will not hesitate to repulse any attack on the country by the insurgents.
“UPDF in collaboration with sister security forces stands ready to defend our motherland Uganda,” Brig. Karemire said.
A recent meeting in Kampala for Director Generals from the intelligence agencies of various great lakes countries under the Regional Coordination Committee of the International Conference on Great Lakes Region discussed the ISIS threat among other key security issues affecting the region.
Uganda’s Director General for External Security Organisation Joseph Ochwet told the meeting that the region is currently facing a number of threats including terrorism and other armed groups among others that are threatening security and stability in the region.
“The continued presence of these groups remains a menace to peace and stability of the region and it is time to critically discuss how these negative forces can be eliminated,” Ochwet said.
The Chief of Defence Forces in the UPDF, Gen. David Muhoozi confirmed ISIS is trying to establish itself in the region.
“We have intelligence that they (ISIS) are trying to establish footholds in one of the neighboring countries and it is a signal for us to tackle the menace,”Gen.Muhoozi said.
In an interview with the Nile Post, Col.Kaka Bagyenda, the ISO Director General said there are many forces operating in the thick forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a bid to destabilize the region.
“They (ISIS) are looking for partnership with fellow rogue groups to become strong and also to survive,”Col.Kaka said.
Last month, security issued an alert in which three suspected ISIS agents operating in the region were feared to be trying to enter the country with an aim of carrying out attacks.
Mozambican police early this year arrested three Ugandans suspected of being part of a terrorist cell affiliated to al-Shaabab that has been executing terror attacks in the Cabo Delgabo province.
The three suspects including a woman were picked from Mocimboa da Praia district of Cabo Delgado during an operation by the Mozambican security forces in areas believed to be terrorist’s operational bases.
The suspects, who were found in possession of Ugandan documents.
It is therefore not surprising that the same area where the three who claimed to be affiliated to Al Shabaab were arrested is where the attack claimed by ISIS last week happened.
According to the ISO chief, ADF, another terrorist group has cells in Tanzania, DRC and South Sudan and is suspected to be trying to recruit from neighboring countries.
He said ADF has since incorporated a new name, the Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen (MTM) which according to the intelligence chief could be a sign that the Ugandan terrorist group is trying to get closer to ISIS for cooperation.
“Because eastern DRC has conflict and there is weak administration, the area is a fertile ground where terrorist groups have a field day for recruitment and training.”
He however said Uganda remains on high alert and closely monitoring any activities by the insurgents.