KAMPALA, Uganda - 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 yesterday, killing 64 people, police said. One American was killed 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 U.S. Embassy spokswoman Joann Lockard in Kampala.
Kampala Police Chief Kale Kaihura said he believed Somalia's most feared militant group, al-Shabab, could be responsible. Al-Shabab is known to have links with al-Qaida, and militant veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts are among its ranks. If Kaihura's suspicions prove true, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside Somalia.
A head and legs were found at the rugby club, suggesting a suicide bomber may have been to blame, an AP reporter at the scene said.
At least three Americans, part of a church group from Pennsylvania, were wounded at the restaurant. One was Kris Sledge, 18, of Selinsgrove, Pa. "I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running," he said from the hospital. His right leg was wrapped and he had facial burns. "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."
A senior police official at the scene said 64 people had been killed, 49 from the rugby club and 15 at the Ethiopian restaurant. The official said he could not be identified.
In the Somali capital of Mogadishu, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told the AP early today he was happy with the attacks in Uganda. 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," Sheik said.
The attacks come two days after another al-Shabab commander in Somalia, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi, both of which contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.