Bombings in Uganda’s capital kill at least 30
KAMPALA, Uganda — Bombs exploded at two sites in Uganda’s capital late yesterday as people watched the World Cup final on TV, killing at least 30 people.
Three Americans, part of a Pennsylvania church group, were wounded. Other foreigners also were believed to be among the casualties, officials said.
Police Chief Kale Kaihura said Somalia’s most feared militia — al-Shabab, which has pledged loyalty to Al Qaeda — could be behind the attacks.
One of the bombs went off at an Ethiopian restaurant. Al-Shabab views Ethiopia as an enemy. The second blast went off in a restaurant at the Kyadondo Rugby Club. Kaihura said at least 14 people were killed at the restaurant, and added that he believed the toll was far higher, though he did not have an exact number.
Al-Shabab is Somalia’s most dangerous militant group, one that militant veterans of the Afghan, Pakistan, and Iraq conflicts have helped train, according to international officials.
If Kaihura’s early suspicions that al-Shabab was responsible prove true, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside Somalia.
In Mogadishu, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, said today that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda. Issa refused to confirm or deny al-Shabab was responsible.
“Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us,’’ Sheik said.
During prayers on Friday, another al-Shabab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, had called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi — two nations that contribute troops to the African Union force in Mogadishu.
In addition to its troops in Mogadishu, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in US- and European-backed programs. Yesterday, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the United States was prepared to provide any necessary assistance to the Ugandan government.
Kenya’s foreign minister, Moses M. Wetangula, said last week that enough veteran militants from the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan conflicts have relocated to Somalia to spark worry inside the international community.
International militants have flocked to Somalia because the country’s government controls only a few square miles of the capital, Mogadishu, with much of the rest of the nation open for insurgents.