Kampala: Ugandan authorities said on Friday they were drastically increasing security in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday period, with police and army chiefs urging increased public vigilance over potential militant attacks.
The move comes after Somalia`s al Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels massacred 36 quarry workers in neighbouring Kenya on Tuesday, the latest in a string of attacks on that country`s soil.
Both Uganda and Kenya are part of the African Union force battling the Shebab inside Somalia.
"I have ordered all unit commanders to heighten security and anyone who does not heed the order will have to explain why," Uganda`s police chief General Kale Kayihura told the New Vision newspaper.
"We know that these evil forces are lurking in the shadows. The danger is real."
In September, Ugandan security forces stopped a cell of Shebab insurgents said to be planning an imminent attack.
Ten men and women were charged and remanded in custody after a major security operation in the capital Kampala. The operation took palce after Ugandan and Western intelligence services were alerted to the transfer of explosive suicide vests.
During the World Cup final four years ago, Shebab insurgents killed at least 76 people after setting off explosions that ripped through two restaurants in the city.
General Katumba Wamala, the country`s defence chief, cautioned Ugandans not to "relax and think we are out of al-Shebab`s range".
"It is when things look to be the best that the worst happens," he said. "With the developments in Kenya and Nigeria, you can see that this threat is real."
Police spokesman Fred Enanga told a news agency the force had put in place "an operational plan giving territorial police units instructions on heightening visibility within all territorial areas".
"The threats will continue being there, and if Kenya can be hit then probably Uganda can be hit," he added.