Uganda police kill five after bomb blasts

·2-min read

Ugandan authorities have killed at least five people, including a Muslim cleric, accused of having ties to an extremist group responsible for Tuesday's bombings in the capital, police say.

Four men were killed in a shootout in a frontier town near the western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo as they tried to cross back into Uganda.

A fifth man, a cleric named Muhammad Kirevu, was killed in "a violent confrontation" when security forces raided his home outside Kampala, police spokesman Fred Enanga said.

A second cleric, Suleiman Nsubuga, is the subject of a manhunt, he said, accusing the two clerics of radicalising young Muslim men and encouraging them to join underground cells to carry out violent attacks.

The police raids come after the explosions on Tuesday in which at least four civilians were killed when suicide bombers detonated their explosives at two locations in Kampala.

One attack happened near the parliamentary building and the second near a busy police station.

The attacks sparked chaos and confusion in the city as well as outpourings of concern from the international community.

A total of 21 suspects with alleged links to the perpetrators are in custody, Enanga said.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for Tuesday's explosions, saying they were carried out by Ugandans.

Ugandan authorities blamed the attacks on the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, an extremist group that has been allied with IS since 2019.

President Yoweri Museveni identified the alleged suicide bombers in a statement in which he warned that security forces were "coming for" alleged members of the ADF.

While Ugandan authorities are under pressure to show they are in control of the situation, the killings of suspects raise fears of a violent crackdown in which innocent people are victims.

Despite the horror of the bomb attacks, "it remains critical to ensure no terrorist attack translates into a blank cheque to violate human rights under a pretext of fighting terror," said Maria Burnett, a rights lawyer with the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

"Across East Africa, terrorism has been a pretext at times to ensnare political opponents, civic actors, and even refugees seeking protection," she said.

"Such actions risk radicalising people in support of non-state actors and hands those actors an easy propaganda tool."

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