At least 64 dead in bomb­ings at 2 sites in Uganda’s cap­i­tal

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By God­frey Olukya and Max De­lany

KAM­PALA, Uganda — Bombs ex­ploded at two sites in Uganda’s cap­i­tal late Sun­day as crowds watched the World Cup fi­nal on TV, killing at least 64 peo­ple, in­clud­ing one Amer­i­can. At least three Amer­i­cans — part of a church group from Penn­syl­va­nia — were among the wounded.

Po­lice Chief Kale Kai­hura said he be­lieved that So­ma­lia’s most feared mili­tia — alShabab, which has pledged loy­alty to al Qaeda — could be be­hind the attacks.

One of the bombs went off at an Ethiopian res­tau­rant in Kam­pala, Uganda’s cap­i­tal. Al-Shabab views Ethiopia as an en­emy. The sec­ond blast went off at the Kyadondo Rugby Club.

Kai­hura orig­i­nally had said that at least 30 peo­ple had been killed but that 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.

Among the wounded was Kris Sledge, 18, who said a group of six Amer­i­cans had been watch­ing the World Cup at the Ethiopian res­tau­rant. Sledge, of Selins­grove, Pa., was part of a church group that had been in the coun­try for three weeks. They were sup­posed to leave Uganda on Tues­day. Three Amer­i­cans in his group were wounded. Joann Lockard, a spokes­woman for the U.S. Em­bassy in Kam­pala, said one Amer­i­can A man helps an in­jured woman af­ter a bomb went off at an Ethiopian res­tau­rant in Kam­pala, Uganda, where many peo­ple had gath­ered to watch the World Cup. Fif­teen peo­ple were killed in the first of two blasts in Uganda on Sun­day, one of­fi­cial said. was killed.

“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.”

Al-Shabab is So­ma­lia’s most dan­ger­ous mil­i­tant group, one that mil­i­tant vet­er­ans of the Afghan, Pak­istan and Iraq con­flicts have helped train, in­ter­na­tional of­fi­cials say.

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, told The As­so­ci­ated Press early to­day that he was happy with the attacks. 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,” Issa said.

Dur­ing prayers 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.

On Sun­day, 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.

So­mali Pres­i­dent Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed on Satur­day ap­pealed for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to do more to help his coun­try fight al Qaeda-linked mil­i­tants.There are about 6,000 African Union peace­keep­ers in the coun­try.

Marcv Hoafer

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