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U.S. warns of 'terrorist threat' to Ugandan capital

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA (Reuters) - 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 U.S. in East Africa and its troops form the backbone of the African Union (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 neighboring 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 U.S. 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.

(Editing by Drazen Jorgic/Mark Heinrich)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/140211/us-warns-terrorist-threat-ugandan-capital