Military and police forces have deployed more than 100 covert personnel for Christmas intelligence operations.
Security meetings at the Joint Operations Committee (JOC) and National Security Command Centre all based at Naguru police headquarters have resolved to intensify clandestine operations to fight criminality and terrorism.
Sources said the decision to deploy a large number of covert military and police teams is based on intelligence shared by three government spy agencies showing planned terrorism activities during Christmas as well as forming up criminal gangs.
“During the joint intelligence meeting, CMI [Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence], Internal Security Organization [ISO] and Directorate of Crime Intelligence [DCI], briefs were made and all highlighted the terror activities being planned in this busy period,” a source said.
Security forces, according to sources, said crowded shopping centres, markets, public transport parks, worship centres as well leisure places that attract reasonable crowds are more susceptible to both terror and criminal gang activities.
“The team of 100 covert personnel from the police, military and ISO is being deployed in identified most at-risk places as well the crime blackspots. This number will be increased as long as more security threats are detected,” sources said.
Sources said the covert officers are going to be operating at churches, supermarkets, markets, taxi and bus parks as well as inside leisure places. According to sources, some will be travelling on public transport and disembark at centres where they brief overt teams.
Uganda has registered several terror-linked activities this year which have claimed dozens of lives and many others have been foiled. The most shocking happened on June 16, at Lhubiriha secondary school in Mpondwe town, in Kasese district where 40 students and five civilians were killed.
Similarly, criminality tends to hike during the festive season as people are victimized when going shopping, returning from shopping, in their homes or even boarding vehicles for upcountry trips. Countries such as the US and the UK have issued terror and crime alerts.
Fred Enanga, the Police Spokesperson said that joint security agencies have already stepped up operations and safety campaigns targeting opportunistic crimes, to purposely help the public, enjoy a safe holiday period.
Although he did not mention the number of covert personnel, Enanga said clandestine operations are some of the prioritized activities against all forms of criminality. The overt teams, according to Enanga, are being spearheaded by Community Liaison Officers engaging leaders of business associations like the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA).
“All out patrol teams, covert teams and CLOs are closely working with the business communities like KACITA and other district business Associations, to provide advice in crime prevention measures,” Enanga said.
Enanga has also listed busy shopping centres, supermarkets, local markets and other crowded places as most prioritized for security beef-up. Enanga said security intensification will not only stop in Kampala metropolitan but even in other upcountry towns where security threats are being anticipated.
“We have also deployed our investigative and intelligence teams, in plain clothes, within the cities, major towns and urban centres. Our dedicated Cyber Crime Teams will be working hard to reduce the risk from those who would target you online,” Enanga said.
Military and police teams have since started tracing leads on potential incidents, identifying offenders, and arresting those already wanted for acquisitive crimes or other offences. Major police stations which are going to be operation bases for joint covert and overt operations have been equipped with freshly trained sniffer dogs.