Monday, July 12, 2010
The Somali terrorists gained two in one. They promised an attack on Uganda for sending troops to Somalia and they were determined to attack those watching the World Cup matches. Unable to orchestrate an attack in South Africa they attacked Uganda ~ an Ethiopian Christian restaurant, that was popular with westerners.
An American aid worker was killed and six members of a Pennsylvania church group were seriously wounded as twin bombers tore through crowds watching the World Cup final at a party in Uganda's capital Monday, killing at least 74 people.
Nate Henn, a Wilmington, De., native who was working with Uganda's child soldiers, died in the blast in Kampala Monday while watching the soccer match at an outdoor rugby field.
Dozens were killed at the rugby club, where revelers had gathered to watch the final on a large TV screen set up outside. Well over a dozen more people died in a separate blast at an Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala.
Al-Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist militia based in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the bombings, which came just two days after one of the militant group's commanders called for attacks in Uganda and Burundi.
Henn, 25, was remembered as a tireless and devoted activist by the California-based aid group Invisible Children, which sponsored his work in Uganda.
"From traveling the United States without pay advocating for the freedom of abducted child soldiers ... to raising thousands of dollars to put war-affected Ugandan students in school, Nate lived a life that demanded explanation," the group said in a statement on its website.
"He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world, and his is a life to be emulated."
Six missionaries from the Christ United Methodist Church in Selingsgrove, Pa., were injured in the blast: Lori Ssebulime, Emily and Joanne Kerstetter, Kris Sledge, and Pam and Thomas Kramer.
Five missionaries had stayed behind in Uganda to complete their mission work with with Ssebulime, who is married to a Ugandan, as their friends returned home just days ago.
The group arrived at the Ethiopian restaurant early to get good seats for the game, said Ssebulime, who told the AP that three Ugandans in the group were killed in the blast and described the scene of the attacks.
"Emily was rolling around in a pool of blood screaming," said Ssebulime, who has helped bring in U.S. church groups since 2004. "Five minutes before it went off, Emily said she was going to cry so hard because she didn't want to leave. She wanted to stay the rest of the summer here."
Blood and pieces of flesh littered the floor among overturned chairs at the scenes of the blasts, which went off as people watched the game between Spain and the Netherlands.
"We were enjoying ourselves when a very noisy blast took place," said Andrew Oketa, one of the hospitalized survivors. "I fell down and became unconscious. When I regained, I realized that I was in a hospital bed with a deep wound on my head."
Pamela Kramer, rests in the Internatiopnal Hospital Kampala, Uganda, Monday, July 12, 2010. Kramer is one of the five US citizens who were injured in a bomb blast on Sunday at an Ethiopian restaurant frequented by western expatriates, while watching the World Cup final.
Five of the six American missionaries have been hospitalized, though none have sustained life-threatening injuries, representatives of their church told Fox News. Two are being evacuated to Kenya or South Africa for further treatment.
The attack marks the first time al-Shabab has reached out beyond the borders of Somalia, where the militia has seized control of large swathes of territory and established a strict and brutal form of Islamic law in its wake.
The group claimed responsibility for the blasts Monday, saying its militants would carry out attacks "against out enemy" wherever they are.
"No one will deter us from performing our Islamic duty," said Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, a group spokesman in Mogadishu.
Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press early Monday that he was happy with the attacks.
"Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah's anger be upon those who are against us," Sheik said.
Ugandan government spokesman Fred Opolot said Monday there were indications that two suicide bombers took part in the late Sunday attacks, which left dozens more wounded.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attack in a statement issued late Sunday night, offering condolences to victims of the attack and their families.
"At this tragic moment, the United States stands with Uganda. We have a long-standing, close friendship with the people and government of Uganda and will work with them to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice,” she said.
The attacks appeared to represent a dangerous step forward by al-Shabab, analysts said, and could mean that other East African countries working to support the Somali government will face attacks.
"Al-Shabab has used suicide bombers in the past and shown no concern about civilian casualties in its attacks," said David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia and a professor at George Washington University. "Some elements of al-Shabab have also prohibited the showing of television, including the World Cup, in Somalia."
At a wrap-up news briefing Monday in South Africa, FIFA President Sepp Blatter denounced the violence against fans watching the game.
"Can you link it to the World Cup? I don't know... Whatever happened, linked or not linked, it is something that we all should condemn," he said.
Florence Naiga, 32, a mother of three children, said her husband had gone to watch the final at the rugby club.
"He did not come back. I learnt about the bomb blasts in the morning. When I went to police they told me he was among the dead," she said.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni toured the blast sites Monday and said that the terrorists behind the bombings should fight soldiers, not "people who are just enjoying themselves."
"We shall go for them wherever they are coming from," Museveni said. "We will look for them and get them as we always do."
Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said it was too early to speculate about any military response to the attacks.
Somalia's president also condemned the blasts and described the attack as "barbaric."
Al-Shabab, which wants to overthrow Somalia's weak, U.N.-backed government, is known to have links with Al Qaeda. Al-Shabab also counts militant veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts among its ranks. Their fighters also include young men recruited from the Somali communities in the United States.
Ethiopia, which fought two wars with Somalia, is a longtime enemy of al-Shabab and other Somali militants who accuse their neighbor of meddling in Somali affairs. Ethiopia had troops in Somalia between December 2006 and January 2009 to back Somalia's fragile government against the Islamic insurgency.
In addition to Uganda's troops in Mogadishu, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in U.S. and European-backed programs.
President Obama was "deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
Officials said the Sunday attacks will not affect the African Union summit being held in Uganda from July 19-27. Many African leaders are expected to attend.
Posted by Cole at 9:31 AM