Monday, July 12, 2010

Uganda News Bulletin: 50 Dead in Kampala Bomb Blasts; Somali Resistance Forces Accused in Attacks

50 die in Kampala bomb blasts

By Alex B. Atuhaire & Andrew Bagala
Posted Monday, July 12 2010 at 02:06
Kampala

More than 50 people have been killed in three separate bomb blasts in the Ugandan capital – Kampala as the residents watched the 2010 World Cup final on giant screens.

Police confirmed that 13 people, more than half of them foreigners were killed at Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, a Kampala suburb, while Daily Monitor reporters counted about 40 bodies at Kyaddondo rugby grounds where a huge crowd was watching the Spain Vs Netherlands Word Cup final.

Another blast was reported to have gone off in Ntinda, another Kampala surburb, as more than 100 were reported admitted in hospitals and clinics in the capital including the national referral hospital - Mulago.


Deadly blasts hit Ugandan capital

Local hospitals have been overwhelmed by the number of casualties from the bombings

At least 23 people have been killed in two near simultaneous bomb explosions in restaurants in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, police have said, in attacks apparently targeting crowds watching the World Cup final.

One blast hit an Ethiopian restaurant in the south of the city, while the other occurred at a rugby sports club in the east of Kampala, Kale Kayihura, the city's police chief, said early on Monday.

He said many others had been injured at both sites, and several foreigners were believed to be among the casualties. The US embassy confirmed that one US citizen was among the dead.

Both blasts struck at the centre of large crowds watching live coverage of Sunday's World Cup football final between Spain and the Netherlands.

"These bombs were definitely targeting World Cup crowds," Kayihura said.

He said he believed Somalia's al-Shabab, a group which has pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, could be behind the attacks.

Al-Qaeda hallmark

If that proves true, it would be the first time the group which has carried out multiple suicide attacks inside Somalia has struck outside of the country.

Twin co-ordinated bombings have become a hallmark of al-Qaeda and associated groups.

Speaking by phone to Al Jazeera, Kayihura said all the signs indicated that the bombings were a "deliberate terrorist attack by a terrorist organisation".

"This was a terrorist attack," he said. "It was a deliberate, calculated attack to inflict maximum damage."

The attacks left scores of football fans reeling in shock.

"We were watching soccer here and then when there were three minutes to the end of the match an explosion came ... and it was so loud," witness Juma Seiko said at the Kampala Rugby Club.

Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb, reporting from Kampala, said dozens of injured had been taken to local hospitals which had been overwhelmed by the number of casualties.

"All the beds are full, staff are rushed off their feet, they're really struggling to cope," he said.

Attack call

In the Somali capital, Mogadishu, an al-Shabab commander told the Associated Press news agency early on Monday that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda, although he refused to confirm or deny that the group was responsible for the bombings.

"Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy," Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa said.

On Friday, another al-Shabab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for fighters to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi - two nations that contribute troops to the 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.

The force has been deployed to prop up Somalia's Western-backed government which only controls a few square kilometres of the country.

In Washington late on Sunday Barack Obama, the US president, condemned the bombings.

A spokesman quoted him as saying the attacks were "deplorable and cowardly".

Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement that the US was "ready to provide any assistance requested by the Ugandan government".

US officials added that they were in contact with the US embassy in Kampala and in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding requests for assistance from Uganda's government.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies


Twin blasts in Uganda capital Kampala kill at least 64

Monday, 12 July 2010 05:34 UK

The blasts went off as people were watching the World Cup final

At least 64 people, including an American, have been killed in twin blasts in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

Another 65 people were injured by the blasts, which police said went off at a rugby club and a restaurant as football fans watched the World Cup final.

"These bombs were definitely targeting World Cup crowds," Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura said.

Somali militants have in the past threatened to attack Kampala; Ugandan troops are deployed in Mogadishu.

About 5,000 African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi are based in Mogadishu to protect the fragile interim government.

The Amisom force is engaged in frequent firefights with Islamist insurgents which control much of southern and central Somalia.

Obama 'deeply saddened'

Insp General Kayihura said he believed Somalia's militant group al-Shabab could be behind Sunday evening's attack. If true, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside Somalia.

In Mogadishu, an al-Shabab commander said he was "happy" with the attacks in Uganda.

But Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible.

People are nervous and scared. They are running home and telling their relatives, and telling them to stay indoors.

In the rugby club, where the biggest crowd had gathered, the explosion occurred right in the middle of the crowd. People who were seated in the outer parts of the crowd were not affected as much as those seated in the middle.

The police are saying they tried to put in place as much security as they could, but it seems clear that the police had no clue about how the bombs got in those places.

Nobody expected this to happen in a World Cup final. One would have thought that whoever did this would have waited for another time. It is just a time when people are making merry and very excited about the World Cup final, then this happens. It is quite shocking.

He told AP news agency: "Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah's anger be upon those who are against us."

Insp General Kayihura, speaking at the scene of one blast, said:

"The information we have indicates the people who have attacked the Ethiopian Village were probably targeting expatriates," he added.

US President Barack Obama said the explosions were "deplorable and cowardly".

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would work with the Ugandan government "to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice".

The US embassy in Kampala has confirmed that one American was among the dead."

The nationalities of all the fatalities will be released later," said police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba.

'Screaming and running'

At least three Americans, members of a church group from Pennsylvania, were wounded at the Ethiopian restaurant.

One, Kris Sledge, 18, said from his hospital bed: "I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running."

Mr Sledge, of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, who had a bandaged leg and burns on his face, told AP: "I love the place here, but I'm wondering why this happened and who did this. At this point we're just glad to be alive."

At the scenes of the two blasts chairs were overturned, and blood and pieces of flesh lay on the floor.


Monday, July 12, 2010 11:56 AMFollow us on

64 die in bomb attacks in Uganda during World Cup

The Associated Press, Kanbala, Uganda
Mon, 07/12/2010 9:44 AM

In simultaneous bombings bearing the hallmarks of international terrorists, two explosions ripped through crowds watching the World Cup final in two places in Uganda's capital late Sunday, killing 64 people, police said. One American was killed and several were wounded.

The deadliest attack occurred at a rugby club as people watched the game between Spain and the Netherlands on a large-screen TV outdoors. The second blast took place at an Ethiopian restaurant, where at least three Americans were wounded.

One American was killed in the blasts, said Joann Lockard, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.

Kampala's police chief said he believed Somalia's most feared militant group, al-Shabab, could be responsible for the attack. Al-Shabab is known to have links with al-Qaida, and it counts militant veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts among its ranks.

A head and legs were found at the rugby club, suggesting a suicide bomber may have been to blame, an AP reporter at the scene said.

At least three Americans - part of a church group from Pennsylvania - were wounded at the Ethiopian restaurant. One was Kris Sledge, 18, of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

"I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running," Sledge said from the hospital. His right leg was wrapped and he had burns on his face. "I love the place here but I'm wondering why this happened and who did this ... At this point we're just glad to be alive."

At the scenes of the two blasts, blood and pieces of flesh littered the floor among overturned chairs.

Police Chief Kale Kaihura originally said at least 30 people had been killed, though the toll could be higher.

Later, a senior police official at the scene said that 64 people had been killed - 49 from the rugby club and 15 at the Ethiopian restaurant. The official said he could not be identified.

Kaihura said he suspected al-Shabab, that country's most hardline militant group. Its fighters, including two recruited from the Somali communities in the United States, have carried out multiple suicide bombings in Somalia. If Kaihura's suspicions that al-Shabab was responsible for the Uganda bombings prove true, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside of Somalia.

Simultaneous attacks are also one of al-Qaida's hallmarks.

In Mogadishu, Somalia, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press early Monday that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda. Issa refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible for the bombings.

"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 weekly Friday prayers in Somalia two days before the double bombing, another al-Shabab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi - two nations that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.

In addition to its troops in Mogadishu, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in U.S. and European-backed programs.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the U.S. was prepared to provide any necessary assistance to the Ugandan government.

"The president is deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks, and sends his condolences to the people of Uganda and the loved ones of those who have been killed or injured," Vietor said.

Kenya's foreign minister, Moses M. Wetangula, told The Associated Press 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, leaving most of the rest of the country as lawless territory where insurgents can train and plan attacks unimpeded.


Uganda Bombings Kill 23, Soccer Fans Targeted

Published: Sunday, 11 Jul 2010 | 10:36 PM ET
By Reuters

Bomb blasts ripped through two separate bars packed with soccer fans watching the World Cup final in the Ugandan capital Kampala overnight, killing at least 23 people, police said on Monday.

The U.S. embassy said one American was among those killed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings. Al Qaeda-inspired al Shabaab militants in Somalia have threatened to attack Uganda for sending peacekeeping troops to the anarchic country to prop up the Western-backed government.

One attack targeted the Ethiopian Village restaurant in the Kabalagala district, a popular night-life spot which was heaving with soccer fans and is popular with foreign visitors. The second attack struck a rugby club showing the match.

"The information we have indicates 13 people have died here at the Ethiopian Village and many others are injured and more than 10 people are reported to have died at the rugby club," Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura told reporters.

Heavily armed police cordoned off both blast sites and searched the areas with sniffer dogs while dazed survivors helped pull the wounded away from the wreckage.

Police said they suspected the attacks were pre-meditated. "I don't think a grenade was thrown. These were pre-planted explosives or bombs," Kayihura said.

Twin coordinated attacks have been a hallmark of al Qaeda and groups linked to Osama bin Laden's militant network.

Police said it was possible those behind the attacks on the Ethiopian Village and rugby club were targeting foreigners.

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust an Islamist movement from Mogadishu. That sparked the Islamist insurgency which still rages.

Revelling one minute in the dying moments of the final between Spain and Netherlands, the bombings left shocked survivors standing among corpses and scattered chairs.

"We were watching soccer here and then when there were three minutes to the end of the match an explosion came ... and it was so loud," witness Juma Seiko said outside the Kampala Rugby Club.

'Evil-Minded Characters'

Uganda, east Africa's third largest economy, is attracting billions of dollars of foreign investment, especially in its oil sector and government debt markets, after two decades of relative stability.

But investors in Uganda and neighbouring Kenya, which shares a largely porous border with Somalia, often cite the threat from Islamic militants as a serious concern.

"The information we have indicates the people who have attacked the Ethiopian Village were probably targeting expatriates," Kayihura said.

"We have evil-minded characters who have been warning us, like the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces), al Shabaab and the Lord's Resistance Army."

The Lord's Resistance Army waged a two-decade-old war in northern Uganda before crossing into Sudan and further afield into central Africa. In May, Uganda said the ADF could be regrouping along the western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Washington, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said President Barack Obama was "deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks".

"The United States is ready to provide any assistance requested by the Ugandan government," said Hammer.

A senior U.S. administration official said: "We are in contact with our embassy in Kampala and in touch with the FBI regarding government of Uganda requests for assistance."

On Saturday, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed told Reuters he was worried by the growing number of foreign jihadists joining the ranks of Islamic insurgents and said they posed a growing threat to regional security.

Regional allies are preparing to send an extra 2,000 peacekeepers to Somalia, bringing the total number of African Union troops to around 8,100. Al Shabaab responded by urging Muslims to join a jihad and pledged to attack before being attacked.