Uganda tightens summit security after suicide blasts
Jul 21, 2010, 11:00 GMT
Kampala - Uganda has stepped up security as African heads of state prepare to fly in for an African Union summit in the wake of suicide bombings that left 76 dead in the capital Kampala.
Somalia's Islamist insurgent group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the blasts, which ripped through a rugby ground and an Ethiopian restaurant as football fans watched the World Cup final on July 11.
'Security has been beefed up in all the venues where the meetings are taking place,' Information Minister Kabakumba Matsiko told the German Press Agency dpa. 'People are also on high alert in case of any suspicious objects or persons.'
Security checks have been increased at the Entebbe International airport, south-east of Kampala, with intense screening at the departure and arrival lounges.
Both sides of the six-mile stretch leading to the Speke Resort & Conference Centre, the venue of the summit on the shores of Lake Victoria, are dotted by uniformed and plain-clothed security personnel.
Al-Shabaab, which is waging a bloody insurgency against a Somali government backed by Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers, said it carried out the bombing in revenge for Uganda's role in the Horn of Africa nation.
It has warned more attacks will follow its first attacks on foreign soil.
Security officials have said that investigations show the blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers, one of Somali origin and a Ugandan. Over 20 people have been arrested in connection with the blasts, including Somali and Pakistani nationals
Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, now wants to increase the African Union peacekeeping force from around 6,000 to 20,000 troops and change the mandate to go after the insurgents
He is expected to push the plan at the summit.
Pre-summit meetings began on July 19, with hundreds of delegates gathering under the theme: 'Maternal, Infant and Child Health and Development in Africa.'
Foreign ministry officials say that among the leaders expected at the summit are South African President Jacob Zuma and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who faces an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide in the Darfur province, is not likely to attend, although officials say an invitation was extended to him.
'We have invited al-Bashir,' Foreign Ministry spokesman, James Mugume, told dpa. 'As regards the ICC arrest warrants, it is up to him to decide to come or not.'