World Cup Tragedy: 74 Killed in Terror Attack
A Somali Islamist militant movement yesterday claimed responsibility for three bomb blasts that killed at least 74 people Sunday at two venues in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, where crowds had gathered to watch the World Cup final.
"And the best of men have promised and they have delivered," said an Arabic statement issued by Al-Shabaab's press office and obtained by CNN. "Blessed and exalted among men -- (taking) full responsibility. ...We wage war against the 6,000 collaborators; they have received their response."
The 6,000 is an apparent reference to African Union peacekeepers in Somalia. Uganda contributes troops to the peacekeeping effort in that country.
“We are behind the attack because we are at war with them,” Al-Shabaab spoke-sman Ali Mohamoud Rage told reporters at a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia .
“We had given warning to the Ugandans to refrain from their involvement in our country. We spoke to the leaders and we spoke to the people and they never listened to us."
Rage said young suicide bombers carried out the attacks but did not specify their nationalities.
"May Allah accept these martyrs who carried out the blessed operation and exploded themselves in the middle of the infidels," he said.
However, the country’s Police Chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura told reporters that arrests have been made in connection with the bombings.
He would not say how many people have been arrested or provide further details.
Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the United States National Security Council, said President Barack Obama is "deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks."
Obama called Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday morning and offered to provide support and assistance, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "I'm told the FBI will assist in the investigation of the bombings."
Museveni said: "We wish to condemn the criminality of these attacks. From a casual look at the scene, I'm confident police will be able to reconstruct the crime scene. ... We shall go after them because we know where they come from."
The bombings, he said, showed that "criminality and terrorism has always been hovering over us."
Earlier yesterday, Sheikh Abu Al Zubeir identified as "the Emir of Al-Shabaab in Somalia " said in an Arabic website posting: "My message to the Ugandan and Burundian nations is that you will be the target for our retribution to the massacres perpetrated against the Somali men, women and children in Mogadishu by your forces."
The statement was posted on an al-Qaeda affiliated website that previously carried statements and videos from Al-Shabaab.
The website set up a page to "receive congratulations" on Al-Shabaab's behalf for the "blessed operations" in Uganda.
Suspicion had centered on Somali Islamist groups shortly after the explosions in Kampala, Uganda .
Islamic militants battling Somalia 's UN-backed transitional government had previously threatened attacks on Uganda and Burundi , which also contributes troops to the peacekeeping effort in Somalia.
Museveni declared a week of national mourning for victims of the bombings, beginning Tuesday, according to a government statement. All flags on public buildings will be lowered to half-staff during the mourning period, the statement said.
Eighty-five people were injured in the Ugandan blasts, Kayihura told reporters. Of those, three are Americans, he said. They were transferred from the national hospital to a privately owned hospital in Kampala , he said.
"This incident shows that it was terrorism," he said. Kayihura said he could not confirm that Al-Shabaab was responsible, but said the nature of the explosives used were consistent with the group.
Police are using forensics to analyze the explosives, he said, and will deliver a report in a day or two.
The 74 fatalities included 28 Ugandans, one Irish citizen, one Indian, one American and 11 people who are either Ethiopian or Eritrean, according to the Ugandan government.
"If you want to fight, why don't you attack soldiers or military installations instead of fighting innocent people watching football?" said Museveni, who on Monday visited rugby sports center where two of the blasts occurred Sunday.
The blasts hit in the capital, Kampala , within 50 minutes of each other. The first one struck an Ethiopian restaurant in a neighborhood dotted with bars and popular among expatriates; two others exploded at the rugby center.
A senior Ugandan government official confirmed there were three bombs. The second one at the rugby club was the most severe, said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The US Embassy confirmed the death of one American. An organization that works with children in Uganda identified him as Nate Henn.
People were wailing, some were trying to find their relatives, others were trying to run away from the scene
In a post on its website, the organization -- Invisible Children -- said Henn was in the country working with Ugandan students. CNN could not independently verify the information.
"Nate was not a glory-seeker and never sought the spotlight. He asked not to be made a hero of," the post said. "But the life he lived inspires reflection and imitation."
In a government statement, Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said he "condemns in the strongest terms the despicable terrorist acts that killed over 60 people in Kampala ."
Ahmed said "the fact that the victims were enjoying the World Cup reveals the evil and ugly nature of the perpetrators and the need to uproot from [the] region those who do not value the sanctity of human life," the statement said.
"The president also denounces the fringe Al-Shabaab terrorist groups that rejoices over the carnage and stated that Somalia mourns with the brotherly people of Uganda ."