Over 80 children have been rescued from terror recruitment centers since last week from various parts of the country, police spokesperson Fred Enanga has said.
According to Enanga, the joint Anti-Terrorism Taskforce and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) raided some of the suspected recruitment centers in Kalule, Luwero and in Ntoroko districts, where 50 children were rescued and at least five suspects arrested on Wednesday and Thursday last week.
Over the weekend, another raid was conducted in Kasengeje, Wakiso district after receiving information that the head of the recruiting center only identified as Sheikh Rwangabo was bringing in children from different places within Kampala and Wakiso district.
Addressing journalists at police headquarters in Naguru, Enanga said that the prime suspect Sheik Rwangabo is on the run, but the teams arrested two of his counterparts; Ibrahim Kaija, Muhammad Ssewakiryanga, and rescued 22 children who were allegedly found being trained and radicalized into Allied Democratic Front (ADF) rebel activities.
Police claim that Rwangabo has recruitment agents in Nansana, Ntinda, Kagoma, Bugerere-Kayunga, and Kawempe division that hoodwink parents with different promises and end up taking their children. The children who were rescued are now all in a shelter home and the process to reunite them with their families is ongoing.
"But also parents, how can you hand over your child without finding out about his or her welfare?" Enanga wondered. "Now this recreating center in Wakiso has been there since last year. Some parents are sponsoring the ADF recruitment."
Police also said they rescued another group of 15 children who escaped from the ADF rebels in Bunia in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) via Kalugutu-Kasese border point. Among these is a 14-year-old Shafiq Ssemakula alias Abuwa who was kidnapped from Kiboga district and smuggled into DRC with 13 other children.
The juveniles narrated to the police that they were being trained in weapon handling; detonation of improvised devices and planting them. Police are now cautioning parents to be extra vigilant with their children.
Meanwhile, police in Kabalagala are holding two suspects who were found with a suspended detonation device that was hidden in a vehicle. Police said the device was discovered by security teams after carrying out a search in a vehicle registration no. UBF 158C at the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort hotel driven by Abdullah Kalim Mayo.
Enanga said Mayo was hired by Assan Muhammed Ayan to pick his relatives at the hotel, and three other close friends of the family; Asil Yasin, Masimal Charlie - all Somali nationals were arrested.
According to police records, over 106 suspects have so far been arrested for allegedly facilitating, financing, recruiting and mobilizing for ADF. In the last two months, Uganda has faced four bomb explosions that have claimed the lives of nine peope and injured 40 others.