Increased Security Presence at Namugongo Catholic Martyrs’ Shrines as Pilgrim Numbers Soar

As the number of pilgrims at the Namugongo catholic martyrs’ shrines continues to soar, there has been an increased presence of military and police personnel. By Tuesday evening, large numbers of military men and women were visible at the entrances, as queues of pilgrims began to stretch.

Deployments have been made throughout the premises, although public and private vehicles, as well as motorcyclists, are yet to be diverted. Pilgrims of all ages were arriving, with some quickly heading to the martyrs’ lake to collect holy water. Fr Vince Lubega, the Namugongo catholic shrine parish priest, expects that by tomorrow morning, over 40,000 pilgrims will have arrived.

They remain optimistic that the numbers will continue to increase as the four days leading up to the June 3rd Martyrs’ Day celebrations unfold.

Fred Enanga, the Police Spokesperson, stated that security was prepared for millions of pilgrims and assured everyone that the uniformed men and women were ready to protect all individuals at Namugongo. Enanga also mentioned that there were no credible threats directed toward the Martyrs’ Day Celebration.

However, he urged pilgrims, well-wishers, and faith-based tourists to remain vigilant and alert at all venues.”We encourage everyone to carry their ID or other identification documents, keep an eye on their personal belongings like wallets and mobile phones, be cautious of strangers, avoid leaving elders or children alone, and inform family and friends about their whereabouts,” Enanga said.

Pilgrims have been reminded to prioritize their physical health by avoiding risks such as hunger, thirst, prolonged standing, congestion, and perseverance. In case of any signs of weakness, they are advised to seek medical attention.

“To prevent food poisoning, pilgrims are urged to avoid undercooked or improperly stored food. It is also important for pilgrims and well-wishers to strictly adhere to the rules and protocols at the venue, including taking care of common facilities, following milestones and information panels, and respecting pathway rules,” Enanga added.

Security authorities have held six meetings to map out the Namugongo area, specifically highlighting hotspots and other high-risk targets. Tactical teams comprising military and police personnel have been strategically placed at various points. As the number of pilgrims continues to increase at both the Catholic and Anglican shrines, security personnel stated that aerial surveillance will be utilized to monitor activities and prevent any surprises.

Certain items are not allowed at the venues, including aerosols, ammunition, animals, bicycles, balloons, drones (except for security purposes), firearms, glass thermos, metallic containers, and pepper spray.

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