Al-Shabab «very happy» about Kampala World Cup blasts

Al-Shabab «very happy» about Kampala World Cup blasts
# 12 July 2010 17:33 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. The Somali Islamist group al-Shabab has said it is "very happy" about the twin blasts which hit the Ugandan capital Kampala on Sunday, killing 74 people, APA reports quoting BBC.
But the al-Qaeda-linked group refused to confirm or deny suspicions it was behind the explosions, which police said targeted World Cup fans.
A Ugandan official said a Somali’s head was found at the scene of one blast, and he may have been a suicide bomber.
Ugandan peacekeepers are in Somalia, and al-Shabab has threatened Kampala.
The explosions, which also injured about 70 people, ripped through a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant as football fans watched the last few minutes of the World Cup final.
’Best news ever’
The deadliest of the blasts was at the crowded rugby club. At both scenes chairs lay overturned, with blood and pieces of flesh on the floor.
In Mogadishu, an al-Shabab commander said he was pleased with the blasts in Uganda, but did not admit it was the militant group’s work.
Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa told the news agency Reuters: "Uganda is a major infidel country supporting the so-called government of Somalia.
"We know Uganda is against Islam and so we are very happy at what has happened in Kampala. That is the best news we ever heard."
Aware of threat
Ugandan Internal Affairs Minister Matia Kasaija told the BBC that the severed head of "somebody from Somalia" had been identified at the scene of one blast.
He told the World Today programme Uganda had been aware of the threat, but had been caught off-guard.
The BBC’s Will Ross, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, says there is no proof as yet that al-Shabab was involved. The blasts could be linked to next year’s elections in Uganda, our correspondent adds.
But the blast at the Ethiopian Village restaurant in particular has raised suspicions of al-Shabab involvement.
Addis Ababa backs Somalia’s government against the rebels. And Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust an Islamist movement, stoking an insurgency that still rages.
Al-Shabab has also in the past threatened to attack Kampala.
About 5,000 African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi are based in Mogadishu propping up the fragile interim government.
American dead
The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) force is engaged in frequent firefights with the Islamist insurgents that control much of southern and central Somalia.
Many - if not most - of those killed and injured in the Kampala blasts were foreign nationals, with both venues popular destinations for expatriates living in the capital.
One unnamed witness told the BBC how he was caught in the rugby club blast.
"I just heard the bomb. In fact, I was blacked out... when I gained consciousness, then I started now, crawling, coming out," he said.
One of the dead was an American, reported to be an aid worker from California. The nationalities of the people killed have not been released.
At least three Americans, members of a Church group from Pennsylvania, were wounded at the Ethiopian restaurant.
One, Kris Sledge, 18, of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, said from his hospital bed: "I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running."
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni criticised the attackers and said his country would not "run away" from its commitments in Mogadishu.
"People who are watching football are not people who should be targeted. If they [attackers] want a fight, they should go and look for soldiers."
US President Barack Obama said the explosions were "deplorable and cowardly".
The African Union has said the attacks will not affect its summit, which is due to be held in Kampala later this month.