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.
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.
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?