Somalia's Al Shabab claims responsibility for Uganda bombings
The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab militant group says it carried out twin Uganda bombings that killed at least 74 people and wounded scores more during the World Cup final Sunday. It's Al Shabab's first attack outside of Somalia.
Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kampala, Uganda
Minutes before the final whistle blew on Africa’s first World Cup, twin bombs claimed by Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab Islamists ripped through crowds watching the tournament’s finale in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
By Monday, 74 people were confirmed dead, including a 25-year-old American children’s charity staffer, and doctors were still treating more than 70 wounded.
The first explosion killed 15 people watching the match in an Ethiopian restaurant popular with expatriates, and the second left at least 49 dead at a rugby club where hundreds of people had gathered for the Spain vs Netherlands match.
"We thank the mujahideen that carried out the attack," said Al Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage on Monday, confirming the attack from Somalia's rubble-strewn capital, Mogadishu, and threatening more attacks.
Al Shabab had long threatened to attack Uganda for sending troops to the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission to prop up the weak, Western-backed government. But the twin bombings – just weeks before the AU is set to hold a summit in Uganda – would mark the first time that the group has made good on its threats to attack outside of Somalia.
One American dead, more wounded
One of those who did not survive the attack was Nate Henn, 25, from Wilmington, Del., who worked with the San Diego-based aid group Invisible Children. He was killed in the explosion at the rugby field.
"He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world," the group said in a statement on its website.
Three of Mr. Henn’s American colleagues were wounded, and three of his Ugandan friends were killed.
“We thought we would be celebrating our last day in Kampala and having a farewell dinner with our friends today,” said American Kris Sledge, sitting wounded in a hospital bed in International Hospital Kampala. Mr. Sledge was part of a group of six from a Methodist Church missionary group that was watching the World Cup final at the Ethiopian Village restaurant when the bomb went off at half time. “Instead we are just lying here trying to be brave, it is all we can do.”
Now three of the Ugandan friends he was watching the soccer match with have been confirmed dead and five of the six Americans have been hospitalized.
Ugandan relatives of those missing began a frantic search for their loved ones. Edith Nasuga and her two sisters trekked around International Hospital Kampala looking for their cousin Magaret Kiberu, a primary school teacher.
“She was a [soccer] fan and went out to watch the match,” says Nasuga. “We are praying so much that we will find her.”
One grateful survivor was Emma Ruhinda. Sitting in the International Hospital Kampala with a large bandage over his head, Ruhinda recounted the moment of the blast as he sat watching soccer on the large screen at the Kyadondo rugby club. “The bomb went off and it felt like I had been hit over the head with a hammer. People were crying, there was a lot of smoke and there were a lot of injuries.”
“It has become really insecure here. It is a big threat,” says Ruhinda’s former girlfriend, Fiona Karambe, who had rushed over the hospital after being shocked to see Ruhinda on local TV. “People are scared and will be fearing to go out. It has really scared the population.”