Ugandan police said a blast on a bus Monday evening that injured several people was a suicide bombing carried out by a jihadist from the ADF group, which was also suspected of plotting to attack “major installations.”
“The incident was confirmed as… (a) suicide bomb attack, where the attacker died in the explosion,” police spokesman Fred Enanga said on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old bomber was “on the wanted list of members” of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), he said.
The much-feared ADF, historically a Ugandan rebel group, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In March the United States officially linked the ADF to the Islamic State group.
The explosion on the long-distance bus near the Ugandan capital Kampala followed a bombing at a cafe on Saturday evening that killed one person and injured three others.
Enanga said they had established “a high connectivity” between the two attacks.
“There are individuals or groups of individuals preparing these IEDs who (belong to) the same group of attackers,” Enanga said, referring to improvised explosive devices.
Enanga said police had arrested a number of ADF operatives in the country, who were suspected of hatching “a plot to carry out a major incident on major installations.”
“We strongly believe the attackers are part of the sleeper cells in the country, inspired by ADF in close collaboration with the Islamic State,” Enanga said in a statement following a press conference.
‘Easy to defeat’
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni tweeted Tuesday that the suicide bomber was part of the same group responsible for a foiled attack on the state funeral in August of Paul Lokech, an army commander who had led a major African Union offensive against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.
“We shall get all of them. The present shallow effort is easy to defeat,” he said on Twitter.
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-century ago.
The DRC’s Catholic Church says the ADF has killed around 6,000 civilians since 2013, while a respected monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), blames it for more than 1,200 deaths in the Beni area alone since 2017.
On March 11, the US State Department said the ADF were linked to the Islamic State under the name of “ISIS-DRC” or “Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen.” It named the group’s leader as Seka Musa Baluku.
Police called Saturday’s attack an “act of domestic terror” and the Islamic State later claimed responsibility for that bombing.
Investigators said a 20-year-old woman was killed and three others injured in the explosion at a popular roadside eatery.
The police said Saturday’s blast was caused by an explosive device containing nails and pieces of metal, covered by a plastic bag.
They said the crude bomb left underneath a table indicated the work of an unsophisticated local outfit, and played down any connection to foreign networks.