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Terrorism in Uganda primarily occurs in the north, where the Lord’s Resistance Army, a militant religious cult that seeks to overthrow the Ugandan government, has attacked villages and forcibly conscripted children into the organization since 1988. The Al-Shabbab militant group has also staged attacks in the country in response to Ugandan support for AMISOM.
From 1997 the Allied Democratic Front, a terrorist organization based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, threw bombs into popular Ugandan areas. More than 50 people were killed and more than 160 were injured. Suspects were held in safe houses and then investigated.
On 11 July 2010, suicide bombings were carried out against crowds watching a 2010 FIFA World Cup Final match during the World Cup at two locations in Kampala. The attacks resulted in 74 people dead and 70 people hurt.
On 5 July 2014, several gunmen armed with swords and lances attacked in Kasese, Ntoroko and Bundibugyo districts. This attack led to the loss of 93 citizens and property worth millions of shillings.
Uganda issued The Anti-Terrorism Act 2002 which makes terrorism, and supporting or promoting terrorism, crimes punishable by capital punishment. It defines terrorism as, “the use of violence or threat of violence with intent to promote or achieve religious, economic and cultural or social ends in an unlawful manner, and includes the use, or threat to use, violence to put the public in fear or alarm”.
Defence Ministers Amama Mbabazi of Uganda, Kivutha Kibwana of Kenya and Philemon Sarungi of Tanzania had a meeting with other military officials in Kampala, Uganda from 21 to 23 November 2003 in a U.S.-sponsored anti-terrorism conference.
Ugandan Military Intelligence Chief Colonel Nobel Mayombo told reporters in Kampala that terrorism is “one of the items high on the agenda of the meeting and how East African resources could be put in place to create security. The meeting will assess the three countries’ readiness to defense challenges and increase information-sharing including issue on training. As for Uganda… we also have targets that have to be protected” because some of the countries near Uganda are “incubators of terrorism”.
Representatives from the governments signed an agreement on tracking terrorist suspects in East Africa. There have been two main wars in Uganda, The Liberation War between Uganda and Tanzania from 1978 to 1979; and The Ugandan Bush war also known as the Ugandan Civil War from 1981 to 1986.
Relations between Tanzania and Uganda had been strained for several years before the war started. After Idi Amin seized power in a military coup in 1971, the Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere offered sanctuary to Uganda’s ousted president, Milton Obote. Obote was joined by 20,000 refugees fleeing Amin’s attempts to wipe out opposition. A year later, a group of exiles based in Tanzania attempted, unsuccessfully, to invade Uganda and remove Amin. Amin blamed Nyerere for backing and arming his enemies. After this Amin declared a war against Tanzania and the UNLA (Uganda National Liberation Army) the armed wing of a political group formed by exiled anti-Amin Ugandans under the leadership of Obote, which he later lost and got thrown from his power position.
In the aftermath Yusuf Lula had been installed as president by Tanzania. In June 1979, following a dispute over the extent of presidential powers, the National Consultative Commission(NCC), which was then the supreme governing body of the UNLF, replaced Lule with Godfrey Binaisa. Binaisa was himself removed on 12 May 1980 by the Military Commission, A Presidential Commission with three members, Saulo Musoke, Polycarp Nyamuchoncho, and Joel Hunter Wacha-Olwol were then appointed to lead the country. They governed Uganda until the December 1980 general elections, which were won by Milton Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress. The elections were bitterly disputed. Yoweri Museveni alleged electoral fraud and declared an armed rebellion against Obote’s government, plunging the country into the Ugandan Bush War.
Yoweri Museveni, a former UNLA commander during the Uganda-Tanzania War and leader of the rival Uganda Patriotic Movement party, claimed electoral fraud and declared an armed rebellion against Obote’s government. Museveni and his supporters assembled in the south-west of Uganda and formed the Popular Resistance Army (PRA), which later merged with former president Yusuf Lule’s group, the Uganda Freedom Fighters, to create the National Resistance Army and its political wing, the National Resistance Movement. At the time, UNLA was still fighting remnants of Idi Amin’s supporters that had formed as the Uganda National Rescue Front and the Former Uganda National Army in Uganda’s northern West Nile sub-region. In July 1985, the UNLA military commanders General Tito Okello and Lieutenant General Bazilio Olara-Okello staged a coup d’etat that ousted Milton Obote from the presidency, who then fled to Kenya and later to Zambia.
By 22 January, 1986, government troops in the capital Kampala had begun to abandon their posts en masse as the rebels gained ground from the south and south-west. Okello ruled as president for six months until he fled to Kenya in exile when the government was eventually defeated by the NRA on 25 January 1986. Yoweri Museveni was subsequently sworn in as president on 29 January, and the NRA became the new regular army of Uganda, which was renamed the Uganda People’s Defence Force in 1995. The Ugandan Bush War has been estimated that approximately 100,000 to 500,000 people, including combatants and civilians, died across Uganda as a result of war.
Milton Obote never returned to Uganda following his second overthrow and exile, despite repeated rumors he planned to return to Ugandan politics. Obote resigned as leader of the Ugandan People’s Congress and was succeeded by his wife, Maria Obote, shortly before his death on 10 October 2005 in South Africa. Tito Okello remained in exile in Kenya until 1993, when he was granted an amnesty by Museveni and returned to Uganda, where he died in Kampala in 1996.
Uganda is known as the world’s second most populous landlocked country with about 84% of this population being Christians. The Muslims, who are primarily Sunni, represent 12% of the population. However, despite the statistics, it is rather unfortunate to learn that there are cases of persecution in this country. There have been threats from terrorist groups like the Al-Shabab who according to reports, threatened churches that they would be attacked. This happening in Uganda came after situation in neighboring countries for instance in Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, and even in Tanzania, where there had been repeated attacks on churches.
In Uganda there have been reports of Christian converts being killed and others ex-communicated by their loved ones. For instance, a 15-year-old girl is reported to have been murdered after being beaten by her Muslim father who is also a known Imam of a mosque in Kaliro District. The man is reported to have reacted to the news that his two daughters had converted to Christianity. The second daughter who is 12 years old is said to be in hospital recuperating after surviving the ordeal. Even though the father, Abdullah Ali was arrested and charged with murder, he was later easily released and given bail after denying the charge claiming that his daughter died in a motorcycle accident. Another report shows that a group of Muslim extremists tried to break into a church service outside Kampala City, armed with swords and clubs, leaving a church member with injuries and damages to the church building. Other reports show that some other Muslim extremists attacked and murdered a 12-year-old girl in Katira areas in eastern Uganda. The girl, whose father was a former sheikh and later converted to Christianity, was strangled to death while the father was hit unconscious by the attackers.
These are just among many more of such cases in Uganda. However, it is important to note that it’s not just the Christians who have suffered this religious persecution. Recent reports show that some sheikhs were detained over murder and terror charges. They are accused of killing two prominent Muslim Sheikhs; Abdul Muwaya and Mustapha Bahiiga. Arrests have been made of several people in connection with murders, including a brother to one of the deceased and also a close friend of the deceased.
This wave of insecurity has resulted in heightened tension both among Christians and Muslims, mostly because the police have not yet identified the root cause of the rampant murders especially among the sheikhs. Most of the suspects arrested have charges that include murder, terrorism and crimes against humanity. Article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states; …everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. So this means that obviously the citizens of Uganda have the right to choose whichever religion they like without having a fear of being killed or tortured.
To solve these stir ups between religion, Ugandan Government has been investigating and has solved some out of the vast variety of these cases. Justice is being done and if people can not stand the diversity of religion in Uganda, it would be best if they migrated and left these innocent refugees alone.
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