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