Tuesday, July 13, 2010



Monday, 12th July, 2010
President Museveni inspecting the Ethiopian Restaurant in Kabalagala, one of the two sites terrorists attacked during the final World Cup match on Sunday

President Museveni inspecting the Ethiopian Restaurant in Kabalagala, one of the two sites terrorists attacked during the final World Cup match on Sunday

By Steven Candia

THE death toll in Sunday’s bomb attacks rose to over 74 people yesterday, the Government said. At least 57 people were admitted to Mulago and Kampala International hospitals. Another 14 were treated for minor injuries and discharged.

Speaking at Mulago yesterday, Police boss Kale Kayihura said among the dead were 10 Eritreans who died at the Ethiopian restaurant in Kabalagala, one of the scenes of the deadly blasts.

Six Americans, he said, were injured in the explosions, which Kayihura said were not new in Uganda. The country suffered similar attacks in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

“This attack is similar but we are investigating whether it was a suicide bomber,” Kayihura said. The Police are working with various intelligence bodies and nations, he added. “We are working with Americans,” he said.

Reports said a severed head, suspected to belong to a suicide bomber, was recovered at one of the scenes.

However, Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba would not confirm the report.

Earlier, while inspecting the Kyadondo Rugby Club, where two of the blasts went off, Kayihura said a team headed by CID deputy director, Elly Womanya, was investigating the tragedy.

Information on the attack can be sent to him on 0712667713 (International dialling code +256712667713). Kayihura said the US Federal Bureau of Investigations had promised to assist in the inquiry. Asked about reports that the attack was the work of Somalia-based insurgents, he said: “We are not ruling out suicide bombers. However, we do not want to rush to conclusions.”

Security sources, said the attack on the Ethiopian-owned restaurant raised suspicion that al-Shabab was involved. Addis Ababa backs Somalia’s government. Al-Shabaab confirmed carrying out the attack.

According to Kayihura, it was too early to tell whether the explosive devices were planted at the scenes earlier or hurled into the revellers.

“It is unfortunate that this has happened because we have been vigilant. We will intensify our counter-terrorism measures,” he added.

Kayihura expressed concern that after meeting several club proprietors, many had not implemented the security measures agreed.
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye dismissed demands from opposition leaders for Uganda to pull out peacekeepers from Somalia.

DP president Norbert Mao said the attacks seemed to be linked to Uganda’s deployment in Somalia as the attacks were also targeted at Ethiopia, another country which has soldiers in Somalia. But Kulayigye said the “terrorists want a safe haven” having been dislodged from Afghanistan.

He argued that if Somalia stabilised, they have nowhere to hide. “If Somalia is in chaos, they get a safe have and they have time to build capacity. That means we all cannot be safe,” he explained. “We have to stick in and ensure terrorism has no room on the African continent or anywhere else in the world.”

Addressing journalists in Kampala on Monday morning, the head of the Media Centre, Fred Opolot, said the three explosive devices were detonated at an interval of 50 minutes apart.

The first incident, he said, occurred at 10:25pm at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala, while in the second, two explosives detonated at the Kyadondo Rugby Club at 11:15pm.

Opolot allayed the fears that the incident would affect the planned AU summit in Kampala, saying it will run as scheduled.

“There have been bomb blasts in many parts of the world. I can assure you the AU Summit will take place here. We will tighten security,” Opolot said.
He conveyed the Government’s condolences to the bereaved families.

Opolot said it was not clear whether the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers but said they were investigating two suspected suicide bombers who died in the blast.

“The attacks could have been carried out by suicide bombers or they could have used timed devices. It is too early to draw conclusions but we are investigating,” Opolot said. No arrest had been made, he added.

On her part, Nabakooba said the Police, the Joint Anti-Terrorism Unit and the Anti-Terrorism Unit were investigating the incidents, and added that foreign assistance to the attackers was very likely.

She appealed to the public to be vigilant to avert such incidents. “Where you see suspicious people or objects, please notify the Police or security authorities,” she said.

Opolot said identification and trauma centres were being set up at Mulago and the International Hospital Kampala. Toll free numbers for investigations and other inquiries, he said, would be communicated.

The Government, he said, had not yet established the nature of explosives used. Neither has any individual or group claimed responsibility, he added. The Somali militants have been threatening Uganda for three years.

The al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, moments after the blasts, were quoted as saying: “Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us. Uganda is one of our enemies. ”

On Friday, another al-Shabab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for attacks on sites in Uganda and Burundi, the two nations which contributed troops to the 5,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.

In addition, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in the US and under European-backed programmes.

(Additional reporting by Herbert Sempogo, Ronald Ssebutiko)