Uganda airport warning prompts major security swoop

(eTN) – The warning by Ugandan security agencies to embassies in Kampala about a potential threat to aviation security this evening at the Entebbe International Airport has led to immediate warnings by the US embassy to their personnel to review their travel plans while other embassies too sent out alerts to their citizens living in Uganda, vis email and text messages.

A US embassy statement said the threat involved an unknown terrorist group: ‘Individuals planning travel through the airport this evening may want to review their plans in light of this information’.

In the Ugandan capital Kampala security, already at a constant high level, was visible stepped up even further and the approach to the international airport in Entebbe saw an extra security check point set up prior to reaching the main perimeter gate where travelers heading for the airport are now subject to intense checks of their cars, their baggage as well as body checks.

Additional check points, at the main terminal, comprise a regular entry point body and baggage check before check in and then again at the boarding gate where hand baggage and passengers are again screened.

Uganda’s security forces have also raised alert levels for restaurants, hotels, shopping malls and bus terminals, among other places, going public in a departure from the usual way of keeping such alerts more low key.

Four years ago, as the FIFA World Cup’s final in South Africa was underway, Kampala was hit by two simultaneous bomb attacks at a restaurant and the rugby club where giant screens had been set up for the public,

The public was urged to be more observant as to their immediate surroundings and report suspicious bags, parcels or left baggage pieces and the local evening news at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time were dedicating significant time to explain the security warning, including screening interviews with senior security officials.

Feedback from Entebbe International Airport is such that passenger processing is slow and screening of travelers arriving at the airport thorough with a high level of combined security forces visible at entry points. Perimeter patrols and surveillance has also been stepped up. It could not be ascertained at this stage if security alerts at other regional airports have been stepped up simultaneously.