Uganda bombs were 'suicide attacks'

 

Twin bomb attacks in Uganda that killed 73 people last week were carried out by suicide bombers and some 20 people have been arrested, the head of police said today.

Somali al Shabaab insurgents linked to al Qaeda have said they carried out the attacks on a restaurant and a rugby club in the capital Kampala while fans watched the World Cup final last Sunday, but said no suicide bombers were involved.

"These attacks were carried out by suicide bombers. The evidence is overwhelming ... two heads have not been claimed, neither have they been identified. It can't be a coincidence," inspector general of police Kale Kayihura told a news conference.

Al Shabaab said it was avenging the killing of civilians by African Union peacekeepers. Ugandan forces form the backbone of the 6,100-strong contingent in Somalia.

Such coordinated attacks have been a hallmark of al Qaeda and groups linked to Osama bin Laden's militant network. It was the first time that al Shabaab had carried out an attack beyond the borders of Somalia.

Analysts said after the bombings that the attack was likely carried out by "foreign elements" in al Shabaab.

"Somalis or foreigners, the effect is nonetheless the same. It is the foreign elements that for now dominate the al Shabaab project," Abdi Samatar, Somalia expert at the University of Minnesota, said last week after the attacks.

Last week police said they had arrested six of the more than 20 Somalis and Ugandans suspected of planning the bombings.

Kayihura said today the number of arrests had risen.

"We have arrested more than 20 people arrested, some of whom are foreigners, including Pakistanis," he said, without elaborating.

Uganda, east Africa's third largest economy, is attracting billions of dollars of foreign investment, especially in its oil sector and government debt markets.

But investors in Uganda and neighbouring Kenya, which shares a porous border with Somalia, often say the threat from Islamic militants is a serious concern.

Reuters