Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed at least one person in Kampala on Saturday night, the militant group said in a statement posted in an affiliated Telegram channel late on Sunday.
The group said that some of its members detonated an explosive device in a bar where “members and spies of the Crusader Ugandan government were gathering” in Kampala on Sunday.
The bomb, packed with nails and shrapnel, targeted a pork restaurant on the outskirts of the capital, police said on Sunday.
Information gathered indicated that three men, disguised as customers, visited the restaurant, placed a polythene bag under a table, and left moments before the explosion, police said.
The explosion killed a 20-year-old waitress and injured three people, two of whom were in critical condition, police said, adding all indications suggest an act of domestic terror.
President Yoweri Museveni said the attack “seems to be a terrorist act”.
In 2010, the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab killed dozens of people in Kampala in a bomb attack, saying it was punishing Uganda for deploying troops in Somalia.
The explosion comes weeks after the United Kingdom had warned that terrorists could carry out an attack in Uganda, but police said there was no need to elevate the threat levels.
In a statement on Thursday last week, the UK government called on their nationals to be extremely vigilant about their security “especially in crowded and public places like hotels, transport hubs, restaurants and bars, and during major gatherings like sporting or religious events”.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack,” the statement reads.
Uganda Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed the presence of sleeper cells in the country, adding that efforts to dismantle them are ongoing.
“Despite the emerging sleeper cells our terror alert levels are not elevated yet,” Mr. Enanga said.
Although the UK did not mention which terrorist group is behind the threat, Uganda security agencies recently accused the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels of attempting to carry out terror attacks.
The Ugandan ADF militia has operated in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996.
Early this month, security agents shot dead a suspected ADF rebel, Hamid Nsubuga, 25, alias Young Midu, in Kampala. He was allegedly planning to assassinate a local politician.
Police said the deceased and another, currently under detention, first attempted to bomb mourners at the burial of former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Lt Gen Paul Lokech, in Pader District, in August.
On July 11, 2010, al-Shabaab terrorists set off two bombs at Kyadondo Rugby Club and the Ethiopia Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, Kampala, killing at least 70 people and injuring dozens.
Since then, security agencies have been issuing terror alert warnings nearly twice every year.
Other than assassinations of politicians and Sheikhs, no major attack has been carried out in Uganda since then.