Kampala, Uganda became the target of twin bombings as crowds gathered to watch the World Cup earlier today. Details are still emerging, but the bombs seemed to target crowds gathered at an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby club, both of which were places where soccer fans gathered to watch the Spain-Netherlands World Cup final. The death toll seems to be upwards of 50 people, and the government seems to blaming the Somali insurgent group, al-Shabaab.
Ugandan soliders make up the bulk of the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, which is propping up the beleaguered Somali Transitional Federal Government. If, indeed, al-Shabaab are behind the attack, this would be a major step towards the internationalization of the Somali civil war.
I’ll post more information about the attack as details as they emerge.
UPDATE: Video of the bombing’s aftermath. According to the New York Times, the death toll has climed to at least 64 people.
UPDATE II: AL Jazeera hosts a discussion about al Shabaab’s likely roll in the bombing.
A senior member of the Somali group said the blasts were aimed at retaliating Uganda for sending peacekeepers to Somalia to support the country’s weak government. He blamed Ugandan peacekeeping forces for “killing Somali civilians.”
“We have reached our objective,” said the senior al Shabaab militant, who declined to be named. “We killed many Christians in the enemy capital (Kampala),” he said in a telephone interview. Other al Shabaab militants, who also declined to be identified, claimed responsibility as well, writes Wall Street Journal.
UPDATE III: An attack averted? From the New York Times:
Ugandan police announced Tuesday that they had found an explosives-laden vest at a popular nightclub here in the capital, thwarting another potential bomb attack just days after three deadly explosions ripped through crowds watching the World Cup championship game.
The authorities also said they had arrested four foreign nationals in connection with Sunday’s attacks, which left at least 76 people dead and raised concerns about the growing reach of the Somali militant group, the Shabab, which took credit for the bombings.