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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.

By Scott BaldaufStaff writer, Correspondent, Max DelanyCorrespondent / July 12, 2010

Residents stand near the scene of Sunday night's blast, in Kampala July 12. Somali Islamists said on Monday they had carried out two bomb attacks in Uganda that killed 74 soccer fans watching the World Cup final on television.

Xavier Toya/Reuters


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.

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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.”