(eTN) Two separate bombs went off towards the end of the world cup final last night in Kampala, killing scores of people, with the latest reports of casualties standing well over 60 dead and dozens more seriously injured. Ugandans, but also foreigners of yet to be confirmed nationalities were amongst the many dead. It was one of the targets, the popular Ethiopian Village Restaurant in the suburb of Kabalagala – only kilometres distant from this correspondent’s residence – which immediately turned the focus of the unfolding investigation towards Islamic militants with Somali al-Shabab connections.
Emerging evidence is now starting to point towards suicide bombings at both venues, although no official comments could be received while investigations are ongoing. It is also understood that, as at least one American citizen was amongst the victims, the US authorities are flying in a team of forensic experts to assist the Ugandan authorities in their investigations and support them with technologically advanced assets
The Somali based criminals and terrorists have repeatedly in the past vowed to take ‘revenge’ against Uganda for sending troops to Somalia under an African Union mandate in support of the fragile national government. Ethiopia too is of course a target as they initially invaded Somalia to quash the growing Islamic radical threat along their own borders, in an act of forward self defence, before eventually handing over to the African Union force. Uganda notably is a non permanent member of the US Security Council in New York and has supported courageous decision during her term of office aimed towards the global war on terrorism.
In the Ethiopian Village Restaurant, which featured world cup matches throughout the duration of the world cup, and hosted a record crowd last night for the world cup final, a dozen people were killed instantly, several are said to have died later and many more were injured from the blast. Visitors to neighbouring pubs and other venues, also filled to the brim with football fans, immediately stampeded away and cleared the area which was then hermetically sealed off by police and security forces, attending to the injured and dead and they are now said to comb the site for forensic evidence. Support towards that end may come through ‘friendly’ agencies from where investigators and forensic experts are said to be enroute to Uganda already. Many of the injured were rushed to the nearby ‘International Hospital’ and other clinics by those who survived the blast and had the sense to act in a compassionate fashion. It is understood that at least one of the casualties at the Ethiopian restaurant was an American citizen but it is possible that more expatriates may be victims of this atrocity as unfolding news early on Monday may tell.
The second bombing venue was at Kampala’s Kyadondo Rugby Club, which was even more populated and also featured matches on big screens. The rugby club is regularly frequented by dedicated large crowds of sports fans, both locals and expatriates, and there the death toll was more gruesome with reportedly nearly 50 dead and scores of injured who were rushed to all available hospitals and health centres across the city.
The African Union is due to hold its annual summit later in the month in Kampala from 19th until 29th of July and security had already been visibly stepped up in the run up to the continental meeting, and most world cup ‘watching venues’ had their own security in place, trying to prevent exactly such incidents.
There is much speculation now over how the bombs may have been smuggled into the venues, but it is clear that the bombers were using the mass crowds to conceal themselves when planting the deadly devices.
While it is early and should not ordinarily be speculated over without hard evidence at hand, this correspondent’s own reaction still firmly points towards the Somalia connection and police and security organs are expected to vigorously comb the city seeking clues and suspects and re-screen recent arrivals into the country while keeping a close watch on everyone wanting to leave through regular border points and across open borders.
Uganda is now in deep shock that the otherwise peaceful country has been attacked by cowardly terrorists and an official announcement is expected later in the day by government about declaring ‘official national mourning’. First reactions available to this correspondent from usually well informed sources with knowledge of security operations have also indicated in a first off the record reaction, that Uganda will maintain their troop presence in Somalia and will ‘under no circumstances’ be deterred by these tragic events, but ‘rather redouble our resolve’.
Uganda is now paying a heavy price for the courage and determination shown to bring peace to Somalia, besides having lost many valiant troops deployed there, but both piracy originating in Somalia’s lawless regions and the Islamic militant threat need to be firmly dealt with, now more so than before, to find and bring to justice those radicals and terrorists with total disregard to the sanctity of human life. It is by now also known that notorious al-Shabab commanders in Somalia have managed to communicate their delight with these attacks, as they consider Uganda their ‘enemy’, a further piece of circumstantial evidence towards the source of this heinous crime.
In closing it is this correspondent’s hope that intending visitors to the country, who are booked on safaris, will not cancel their holiday plans and remain Uganda’s friends in this hour of tragedy and need. This correspondent and the entire eTN team, extend their heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and the Ugandan nation.
Emerging evidence is now starting to point towards suicide bombings at both venues, although no official comments could be received while investigations are ongoing. It is also understood that at least one American citizen was among the victims. US authorities are flying in a team of forensic experts to assist the Ugandan authorities in their investigations and support them with technologically-advanced assets.