Bombs strike World Cup watchers in Uganda, kill 64

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 killed and several were wounded.

Kampala’s police chief said he believed Somalia’s most feared militant group, al-Shabab, could be responsible for the attack. Al-Shabab is known to have links with al-Qaida, and it counts militant veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts among its ranks.

news.yahoo.com/s/ap/af_uganda_explosions;_ylt=AljFuGajcjP5b2O353lRymys0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNrNHFsNzllBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNzEyL2FmX3VnYW5kYV9leHBsb3Npb25zBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDMQRwb3MDMgRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX3RvcF9zdG9yeQRzbGsDYm9tYnNzdHJpa2V3

This is the first time that al-Shabaab has been known to strike outside of Somalia. But why Uganda? It doesn’t even share a border with Somalia, the countries being more than 300 miles apart at their closest points.

Apparently Ugandan and Burundi troops are the main constituents of the UN-backed, African Union peacekeeping operation in Somalia. Because this operation helps to support the official transitional government in Somalia (which only controls a portion of Mogadishu, and none of the countryside), al-Shabaab has targeted Ugandan soldiers with suicide bombers in the past, and recently vowed to strike again.
www1.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Ugandan-Army-Official-Dismisses-Threats-by-Insurgents-in-Somalia–97818804.html

This mass murder is terrible, and all the more so because it was unforeseen. I wonder if al-Shabaab (which has been drawing large numbers of recruits from around the world, including the US) is planning on further international attacks?

The death toll is up to at least 74. And al-Shabaab has formally claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.
washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/12/AR2010071200476.html?nav=rss_email/components

It is possible that the Uganda bombing was conducted because tight security in South Africa prevented an attack directly on the World Cup activities.

The deadly twin bombings in Uganda's capital may have been the "Plan B" for terrorists looking to make a strike on the World Cup but unable to penetrate South Africa's security, a terror expert who had earlier warned Congress about such an attack told FoxNews.com.

foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/12/obama-administration-offers-join-forces-uganda-cowardly-attack/

A rather more dire analysis of the bombing, although more speculative, too:

The bombing of a Ugandan rugby club and a restaurant during the World Cup was meant as a message to African nations that they should not try to stop a militant Islamist movement in Somalia, Africa and counterterrorism analysts said Monday.

The attacks were a warning to Uganda, a U.S. ally that contributes troops to the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and other nations that "they'd bear a heavy price" for their continued involvement in the war-torn nation, said Joseph Siegle, the director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington.

"The question was: Is Shabab just a problem for the Somalis?" Byman said. "It's too early to make any conclusions. But the concern is now that [al-Shabab] could have a more global ambition and start going after international targets in the region. In the most extreme situation but not completely out of the question — the concern is that al-Shabab could also take part in attacks on U.S. targets."

usatoday.com/news/world/2010-07-12-Uganda_N.htm?csp=34news&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+usatoday-NewsTopStories+%28News+-+Top+Stories%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Al-Shabaab has had success recruiting citizens from Western countries, including the US. That has waned in recent years, although two persons were arrested last month in New Jersey.

About 20 Americans have joined Al Shabab, and at least half a dozen have been killed in fighting in Somalia, according to their friends and relatives. Law enforcement officials fear that the recruits, often young men in their 20s who hold American passports, could be tapped to return to the United States to carry out attacks here, though so far there is no evidence of any such plot.

nytimes.com/2010/06/07/nyregion/07shabaab.html

The death toll is now at 76, with 85 wounded. :frowning:
edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/07/13/uganda.bombing/

A suicide vest, packed with ball bearings has also been found, suggesting a third bombing was planned.
nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10658743

Apparently, the Ugandan authorities had been tipped off by an informant last month that Somalis were planning this attack during the World Cup. So far, six of the 20+ suspects have been arrested.
reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66A2B120100713

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