Bombs exploded in Kampala’s Ethiopian neighborhood

Bombs exploded in Kampala's Ethiopian neighborhood12 July 2010 | KAMPALA, UGANDA — Three bombs exploded inside a restaurant in a Kampala neighborhood known as Ethiopian village Sunday night. The blasts killed more than 40 people, a Ugandan newspaper reported.

The New Vision, which attributed the death toll to witnesses, said scores more were wounded. Police had not confirmed the total number killed, the newspaper said.

There were unconfirmed reports of other explosions in Ntinda and Bwaise, as well.

The New Vision said most of the dead were killed by two bombs that exploded back-to-back shortly after 11 p.m. at the Kyadondo Rugby Club where the final game of the 2010 World Cup was being watched.

A sportswriter for the newspaper who was at the event said shoes and other clothing and broken chairs littered the area. Security soldiers and rescuers were evacuating and helping the wounded, New Vision said.

The other blast, which was the first to happen, was reported in the city’s Kabalagala neighborhood, home to many Ethiopians.

Police said they suspected al-Shabaab militants from Somalia could have been behind the attacks.

“We have been suspecting that these people could be planning something like this,” Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, the inspector general of police, told the newspaper by phone last night. — UPI

A man aids a woman hurt in the bombing at an Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala, Uganda. (Marc Hofer/AP July 12, 2010)

(LA TIMES) — 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 slain 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.

The White House said it was ready to assist Ugandan authorities if requested.

“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,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

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.”

Kampala’s police chief said he believed that Somalia’s most-feared militant group, Shabab, could be responsible. Shabab is known to have links with Al Qaeda, 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 Associated Press 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, Pa.

“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.”

The bombings left shocked survivors standing among corpses, blood, pieces of flesh 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,” Juma Seiko said at the Kampala Rugby Club, Reuters reported.

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 Chief Kale Kaihura originally said that at least 30 people had been killed, but that the toll could rise.

Later, a senior police official at the scene said 64 people had died — 49 from the rugby club and 15 at the Ethiopian restaurant. The official told the Associated Press that he could not be identified.

Kaihura said he suspected Shabab. 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 prove true, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside Somalia.

Simultaneous attacks are also one of Al Qaeda’s hallmarks.

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

“Uganda is one of our enemies,” he said. “Whatever makes them cry makes us happy. May God’s anger be upon those who are against us.”

During weekly Friday prayers in Somalia two days before the double bombing, another 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.

Kenya’s foreign minister, Moses 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 in 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.

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

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