July 12, 2010 in Nation/World

Bomb blasts in Uganda kill dozens of soccer fans

Max Delany Associated Press
 

KAMPALA, Uganda – Two explosions ripped through crowds watching the World Cup final in two places in Uganda’s capital late Sunday, killing 64 people, police said. Americans were among the casualties.

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 – part of a church group from Pennsylvania – were wounded.

Joann Lockard, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, said one American was killed.

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.

Police Chief Kale Kaihura originally said at least 30 people had been killed, though the toll could be higher.

Later, a senior police official at the scene said that 64 people had been killed – 49 from the rugby club and 15 at the Ethiopian restaurant. The official said he could not be identified.

Kaihura said he suspected al-Shabab, that country’s most hardline militant group. Its fighters, including two recruited from the Somali communities in the United States, have carried out multiple suicide bombings in Somalia. If Kaihura’s suspicions that al-Shabab was responsible for the Uganda bombings prove true, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside of Somalia.

Simultaneous attacks are one of al-Qaida’s hallmarks.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the U.S. was prepared to provide any necessary assistance to the Ugandan government.

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