July 11 2010: Recounting the Deadly Al Shabaab Attack on Uganda

The aftermath of the bomb blast at Logogo in 2010

Memories are still afresh on minds of many Ugandans especially those who lost their lives and those who were able to survive the horror that befell Uganda in 2010 as revelers watched the World Cup finals between Spain and the Netherlands.

A plan that was hatched in Somalia way back in 2009, here 2 years after Uganda had  sent her troops to the Horn of Africa nation was orchestrated  on July, salve 11, 2010 in Kampala,  leading to death of over 70 people at Lugogo rugby grounds and Ethiopian Village restaurant in Kabalagala whereas the bomb at Makindye house failed to go off.

Today, Uganda commemorates the 6th anniversary of the deadly attack and the first outside Somalia of the Al Shabaab insurgents.

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According to 33 year old Muhamood Mugisha of Rwandese origin and  one of the suspects in the trial who was later used as a witness, he  joined the insurgent group in 2008 and underwent training in Kismayo and Barawe camps .

He revealed that  whoever entered the rebel outfit in Somalia was given a pseudo name and to prove loyalty to the group, one had to fight at the front line and those caught trying to escape would be beheaded.

“By 2010 Abu Zubair was our leader and all fighters put on green uniforms that hid their faces,” Mugisha narrated.

He said in the camp was another Ugandan Issa Luyima who would later be chosen by one of their  leaders then Nabuhan to organize the attack on Uganda. They were engaged in many front line battles for AlShabaab against AMISOM forces inside Somalia.

“I was later told of the plan to hit Uganda especially the American embassy and other strategic areas, “Mugisha told court in March 2015.

“I was sent to do reconnaissance but on reaching the embassy I was not able to accomplish my mission and I proceeded to Capital pub (Kabalagala) where I took photos using my phone before returning to Kenya.”

The 33 year would later in April 2010 be arrested at the Malaba border as he drove the Toyota Land Cruiser that had the explosives. Mugisha was detained for possessing a Ugandan passport illegally.

Unfortunately the explosives were never detected and another occupant Sereman Hijjar Nyamandondo drove the package to Uganda and handed it to the mastermind of the mission Issa Luyima who kept it in Namasuba.

On coming to Uganda, Nyamandondo was received by Luyima at National Theatre before they drove to Namasuba and the ‘visitor’ slept at Naigara hotel and returned to Kenya.

According to another witness, Idris Nsubuga who confessed detonating the second bomb at Lugogo, he was recruited by Issa Luyima who they worked together at the Islamic University, Kabojja campus main library.

He said a house was hired in Namasuba that was used by the group, who had been joined by counterparts from Kenya and Somalia plus the suicide bombers he named as Mursa and Kakasule.

The group would watch Afghanistan war documentaries inside their safe house as they practiced how they would carry out the mission.

Mission Nears

According to Nsubuga, on Friday 8th, July 2010, a few days to the fateful day, he met with Isa Luiyma at Prime Complex in Kampala and told him they were waiting for someone who would bring them money to be used for the mission.

Later together with Hassan Haruna Luyima ( brother to IssaLuyima) they went to Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza where they  brought 2 phones; a Nokia 3510 and MTN Kabiriti that  would be used for the mission.

Nsubuga narrated that the group separated into 2 before moving to make final reconnaissance for their planned targets.

“I moved out with Murta (Somali) while Hassan moved with Kakasule ( Kenyan) but both groups moved after an interval of 10 minutes.”

“Hassan and Kaka went to Ethiopian village and Makindye house where as we went to Kyadondo rugby grounds where it was easy to enter because there was no security at all.We then moved around the whole place and surveyed it,” Nsubuga told court in June last year.

He narrated that after 45 minutes, they left Lugogo and returned to the safe house waiting for the d-day.

The following day the group was supposed to meet for final touches but Nsubuga who was nervous, risking the mission. By that time he reached the safe house, his colleagues had finished assembling the explosives.

“I found when they had finished assembling the explosives but the visitors (Kaka and Murta) were asked to do it for me the second time.”

The Eagle Lands

In a lengthy   court session, Nsubuga narrated how they first prayed before proceeding for the mission. He and one of the suicide bombers went to Lugogo while the other group went to Kabalagala.

Nsubuga told court that entering the venue was easy as there were no security measures but found that behind the bar there had been some barricades where big screens had been put for revelers.

He noted that chance availed itself as a scuffle ensued during the first half break and they entered as police was trying to calm the situation.

“My colleague then smiled as he set his watch to 11:15pm. I gave him thumbs up and said Salaam and he replied. We then parted.”

He narrated, “I went to the entrance as I talked to the askari waiting for the agreed time to come but all this time I was panicking. At 11:15pm there was a blast but people around though it was a transformer. I then detonated my bomb and saw people scampering for their lives. I then jumped onto a bodaboda and took off up to the old taxi park where I got a taxi up to my home.”

To Bernard Tagoya a policeman who was deployed at Lugogo on the fateful day, he will live to remember what befell him at Lugogo.

“I heard a heavy blast  from my right hand side and a  smell of blood all over the place.I used my phone’s torch and what I saw traumatized me. I saw blood and flesh scattered  all over the whole area,” the policeman narrated in July last year.

According to another witness, Prossy Namukasa the then Divisional CIID officer for Kabalagala, she got the news on her way home prompting her to return to the station and joined the team at the Ethiopian village restaurant.

“We found bodies scattered all over the place, chairs, phones and tables broken plus other documents littered .The bodies had their flesh scattered and legs plus arms broken off with many wounds all over,” the police officer narrated to court in July 2015.

“We (police) collected a full polythene bag full of human fresh from the scene.”

IdrisNsubuga in September 2011 pleaded guilty of being part of the mission to bomb Uganda and  was handed a 25 year sentence he is still serving atKigo prison.

In May this year, the High Court in Kampala convicted and sentenced 5 people for life imprisonment and 2 others 5o years for masterminding the July 2010 twin blasts in Kampala.



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