Security chiefs from the East African region are meeting in Uganda to seek measures of controlling cross-border terrorism activities.
The chiefs who include INTERPOL and counter terrorism officials from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Mozambique are converging under the theme: “Border control challenges in the fight against terrorism in the east African region”.
The meeting, which opened on Tuesday closed on Thursday.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Uganda’s police chief Okoth Ochola said terrorism had taken root in the region for the past 20 years.
“Terrorism within the region is, therefore, not only a threat, but a reality which needs to be confronted in a collective and coordinated manner,” Ochola, who is also the Eastern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization chairperson, said in a speech read for him by INTERPOL Uganda chief, Fred Yiga.
Ochola said pockets of outlawed armed groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army and Allied Democratic Forces had “inflicted untold suffering to the people of Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central Africa”.
The police chief also noted that the region was being infiltrated by foreign terrorist fighters.
“A number of individuals also travel across borders to join violent extremist groups as fighters, while others seek military training and return to join local groups or crime gangs,” Ochola said.
The security chiefs were also warned of individuals who were mobilizing funds and logistical support to terrorist groups.
“Just like actual fighters, this logistical wing of terrorist networks must, as matter of priority, be hastily targeted and suppressed at the earliest opportunity.” Ochola said.