Fears in east Africa over World Cup attack threat

East African nations were on high alert Thursday over fears that Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels may launch attacks on World Cup screenings.

 Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whose country is a key contributor to African Union forces fighting the Shebab in Somalia, cautioned fans “to be alert as they enjoy football, bearing in mind that the country is threatened”.

A statement said Ugandan security forces had been urged to screen people to avoid a repeat of attacks four years ago during the World Cup final, when Shebab militants killed at least 76 people in the bombing of two restaurants in the Ugandan capital.

 In Kenya, police chief David Kimaiyo promised “sufficient security measures” to ensure fans were safe, but said bar owners must take their own precautions. “Owners of such social places must ensure that every person is thoroughly screened before entering their premises,” he said in a statement. Britain this week released warnings to citizens in several East African nations — including Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya, who all have troops in Somalia — speaking of the threat of attacks at public screenings of the World Cup. “Previous terrorist attacks in the region have targeted places where football matches are being viewed,” Britain’s Foreign Office said, adding that crowded areas including “transport hubs, hotels, restaurants and bars” are also possible targets.

The Foreign Office singled out Djibouti as a major risk, saying Shebab insurgents were planning further attacks in the Horn of Africa nation against target that include “Western interests.” Last month at least one person was killed and several wounded when two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a restaurant in Djibouti, the first attack in the country to be claimed by the Shebab since it joined the AU force in 2011. As well as almost daily attacks inside Somalia, the Shebab have also carried out attacks against other troop contributing nations, including including last September’s siege of Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall in which at least 67 people were killed. AFP
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