Wives of some of the arrested men gather at a mosque in Kibira Masajja, Wakiso District, on Friday. PHOTO/JAMES KABENGWA
By JAMES KABENGWA
Children as young as three years and women have been arrested in a military raid in Wakiso District in connection with an alleged suicide bomber who was recently arrested in Pader District.
The raid on Thursday night had three children and two women seized from a family along with other men who were picked up from different households in Masajja Kibira B, Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality, Wakiso District.
The women and children belong to the family of the Imam of An Swab Islamic Centre – Kibira, Sheikh Ismail Mutumba.
At the time of the raid at 1am, the Imam was reportedly at one of his other homes in Zana.
Hafitha Noowa, the sister of Kasemire Salha and wife of the Imaam, said she was notified about the incident by a friend. Her sister Kasemire, she said was taken alongside her daughter Ruwah Mutumba, 3, Sabika Mutumba, 4, another elder daughter Shamusa Mutumba (of another woman but under care of Kasemire), and their unidentified housemaid.
“We don’t know whether the army men targeted the entire family because by the time they raided the Imam was away in his other home. We were told after being arrested, they were taken into a drone [a Toyota mini Van],” Noowa said.
The military and Defence spokesperson, Brig Flavia Byekwaso, confirmed the arrests, saying they were in connection with the suicide bomber, Abdul Katumba, alias Ben, who was reportedly found with a suicide vest and an assortment of materials for assembling an improvised explosive device (IED).
Katumba, the army said on August 27, was planning to detonate a bomb at the funeral of former Deputy police chief, Lt Gen Paul Lokech, who died of a blood clot on August 21. Lokech was a former senior military commander, who earned the name Lion of Mogadishu for his excellent command in Somalia.
In Saturday’s interview with Brig Byakwaso, she stressed “we will hunt down all suspected terrorists.”
“You don’t make an arrest and stop there, definitely he (Katumba) never worked alone. They have to look for all the people connected to him. That arrest (on Thursday) is one of such,” Byekwaso said. She said she was not aware about women and children having been taken into custody.
“I never heard about women and children, but what I know they were men. Some five or nine were arrested but it wasn’t a raid, it was a formal arrest by security forces and indeed it is connected to that guy (Katumba) and the hunt for terrorists continues,” Byekwaso said.
Other men taken in the operation include Ali Lubega, vice chair of An Swab Islamic Centre – Kibira.
Other men, all worshippers at the same mosque, also arrested and include Abdalla Ssekiwala, Amidu Kaweesa, Gaddafi Lwanga, Said Alumansi, and a one Brian.
But Ali Lubega, who was arrested on Tuesday night, was released on Friday.
Lubega is the owner of the houses where Katumba rented.
In Kibira B, residents told this newspaper they knew Katumba as an electrician, who fixed their electricity but would sometimes build houses. Masajja Kibira B is located in Makindye Ssabagabo Municipality, Wakiso District.
Wives, Muslim leaders and relatives of the arrested persons gathered at An Swab Islamic Centre – Kibira on to strategize on how they would rescue their relatives and friends.
The mosque’s spokesperson , Ms Rashida Nabirye, said they were reaching out to security agencies to locate their friends.
Butambala Woman MP Aisha Kabanda, who is an activist for the Muslim community, on Friday said she had not yet been able to locate the detained persons but criticised the army’s behaviour.
“Just imagine, how do you arrest women and children. If their fathers have committed crime, arrest them and follow the due process of the law,” Kabanda said.
Ms Nabuuma Hanifa, said no reason was given for the arrest of her husband Abdu Bbosa Kyobe.
“The soldiers knocked, handcuffed him and took him away- at nearly 1am,” Nabuuma said.
Local Council I chairman Wasswa Sam Luwandaga, said that unlike in the arrest of Katumba’s landlord Lubega in which he was informed by the security operatives in Thursday night arrests, no one informed him.
“Two days ago, security agents raided and invited me. All those arrested, I know them as my good residents. It’s important to arrest after thorough investigation, these people could even be invited instead of taking them in the night,” he said.
Source Daily Monitor.