Deadly blasts hit Ugandan capital

Published on by KANYARWANDA

Deadly blasts hit Ugandan capital
Local hospitals have been overwhelmed by the number of casualties from the bombings [EPA] 

At least 60 people have been killed in two separate bomb explosions in restaurants in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, police have said, in attacks apparently targeting crowds watching the World Cup final.

One blast hit an Ethiopian restaurant in the south of the city, while the other occurred at a rugby sports club in the east of Kampala, Kale Kayihura, the city's police chief, said early on Monday.

He said many others had been injured at both sites, and several foreigners were believed to be among the casualties.

"These bombs were definitely targeting World Cup crowds," Kayihura told reporters, adding that he believed Somalia's al-Shabab rebels, a group which has pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, could be behind the attacks.

If that proves true, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside of Somalia.

Speaking by phone to Al Jazeera, Kayihura said the bombings were a "deliberate terrorist attack by a terrorist organisation".

"This was a terrorist attack," he said. "It was a deliberate, calculated attack to inflict maximum damage."

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Kampala, Malcolm Webb, said dozens of injured had been taken to local hospitals which had been overwhelmed by the number of casualties.

"All the beds are full, staff are rushed off their feet, they're really struggling to cope." he said.

Attack call

In the Somali capital, Mogadishu, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press early Monday that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda, although he refused to confirm or deny that the group was responsible for the bombings.

"Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy," Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa said.

On Friday another al-Shabab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for fighters to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi - two nations that contribute troops to the 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.

The force has been deployed to prop up Somalia's Western-backed government which only controls a few square kilometres of the country.

In Washington late on Sunday Barack Obama, the US president, condemned the bombings.

A spokesman quoted him as saying the attacks were "deplorable and cowardly".

Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement that the US was "ready to provide any assistance requested by the Ugandan government."

US officials added that they were in contact with the US embassy in Kampala and in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding requests for assistance from Uganda's government.

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