Tue, Jul 13, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Somali militants praise bomb attacks in Uganda

AP , KAMPALA

An al-Qaeda-linked Somali militant group suspected in twin bombings in Uganda’s capital that killed 74 people watching the World Cup final endorsed the attacks yesterday but stopped short of claiming responsibility, as Uganda’s president vowed to hunt down those responsible.

The blasts came two days after a commander with the Somali group, al-Shabab, called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi, two nations that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.

The attacks also raise concerns about the capabilities of al-Shabab, which the US State Department has declared a terrorist organization. If confirmed that the group carried out the attacks, it would be the first time al-Shabab has struck outside Somalia.

In Mogadishu, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander said that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda but refused to confirm or deny that 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.

Kampala’s police chief, Kale Kaihura, said he believed al-Shabab could be responsible.

A California-based aid group, meanwhile, said one of its US workers was among the dead. Police said Ethiopian, Indian and Congolese nationals were also among those killed and wounded, police said.

Ugandan government spokesman Fred Opolot said yesterday there were indications that two suicide bombers took part in the late Sunday attacks, which left nearly 60 people wounded.

Blood and pieces of flesh littered the floor among overturned chairs at the scenes of the blasts. The attack on a rugby club, where crowds sat outside watching a large-screen TV, left 49 dead, police said. Fifteen others were killed in an explosion at a restaurant.

“We were enjoying ourselves when a very noisy blast took place,” said Andrew Oketa, one of the hospitalized survivors. “I fell down and became unconscious. When I regained [consciousness], I realized that I was in a hospital bed with a deep wound on my head.”

Florence Naiga, 32, a mother of three children, said her husband had gone to watch the World Cup final at the rugby club.

“He did not come back. I learnt about the bomb blasts in the morning. When I went to police they told me he was among the dead,” she said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni toured the blast sites yesterday and said that the terrorists behind the bombings should fight soldiers, not “people who are just enjoying themselves.”

“We shall go for them wherever they are coming from,” Museveni said. “We will look for them and get them as we always do.”

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