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US warns Uganda of ‘threat’ to city

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 US in East Africa and its troops form the backbone of the 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 US 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.

However, the city has been calm since then.

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