KAMPALA —Islamic state has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks in Kampala on Tuesday, the militant group’s Amaq News Agency said on an affiliated Telegram account.
In April 2019, Islamic State began to claim some ADF attacks on social media, presenting the group as its regional branch — the Islamic State Central Africa Province, or ISCAP.
The ADF, historically a Ugandan rebel group, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in eastern DRC
In March this year, the United States officially linked the ADF to Islamic State
The ADF is considered by experts to be the bloodiest of more than 120 armed groups that roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars a quarter of a century ago.
“It’s increasingly clear that the ADF is refocusing its attention on Uganda,” said Kristof Titeca, an expert on the group at the University of Antwerp.
“It may link with an increased influence of jihadist elements within the ADF in the last couple of years,” Titeca was quoted by AFP.
A twin suicide bombing killed three people in the heart of Kampala on Tuesday, sending lawmakers and others rushing for cover as cars burst into flames, in the latest in a wave of bomb attacks.
The two explosions occurred within three minutes of each other.
Both were carried out by attackers carrying explosives. A possible attack on a third target was foiled by police, who pursued and disarmed a suspected suicide bomber, a police spokesperson Fred Enanga said.
One blast was near a police station and the other on a street near the parliamentary building, according to police and witnesses. The explosion near parliament appeared to hit closer to a building housing an insurance company and the subsequent fire engulfed cars parked outside.
Body parts were seen in the street, and later some lawmakers were seen evacuating the parliamentary building nearby.
At least 33 people were being treated at the city’s main public referral hospital, Enanga said.
Five were critically injured, he added
People rushed to leave the city in the aftermath of the attacks, many on passenger motorcycles, as police cordoned off wide areas near the blast scenes, footage posted on social media showed.
Ugandan officials have been urging vigilance in the wake of a string of bomb explosions in recent weeks.
One person was killed and at least seven others wounded in an explosion at a restaurant in a suburb of Kampala on 23 October.
Another explosion two days later on a passenger bus killed only the suicide bomber, according to police.
Even before those attacks, the UK government had updated its Uganda travel advisory to say extremists were “very likely to try to carry out attacks” in the east African country.
The Allied Democratic Forces, an affiliate of Islamic State in central Africa, claimed responsibility for the attack on the restaurant.
Enanga said Tuesday’s attacks bore “the hallmarks” of the work of this group, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
At least 150 planned attacks had recently been defused, he said, describing a “domestic terror group” eager to carry out more attacks.
The Allied Democratic Forces has long been opposed to the rule of the longtime president Yoweri Museveni, a US security ally who was the first African leader to deploy peacekeepers in Somalia to protect the federal government from the extremist group al-Shabaab.
In retaliation over Uganda’s deployment of troops to Somalia, the group carried out attacks in 2010 that killed at least 70 people who had assembled in public places in Kampala to watch a football World Cup game.