Deadly Blasts Hit World Cup Watchers In Uganda

A doctor treats a victim of a bomb blast at Mulago hospital in Kampala late Sunday i

A doctor treats a victim at Mulago hospital in Kampala late Sunday after twin bomb blasts tore through crowds of soccer fans watching the World Cup final. The country's police chief said the blasts at an Ethiopian-owned restaurant and a rugby club in Kampala were a terrorist attack by the Somali militant group al-Shabab. Trevor Snapp/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Trevor Snapp/AFP/Getty Images
A doctor treats a victim of a bomb blast at Mulago hospital in Kampala late Sunday

A doctor treats a victim at Mulago hospital in Kampala late Sunday after twin bomb blasts tore through crowds of soccer fans watching the World Cup final. The country's police chief said the blasts at an Ethiopian-owned restaurant and a rugby club in Kampala were a terrorist attack by the Somali militant group al-Shabab.

Trevor Snapp/AFP/Getty Images

Al-Qaida-linked Somali militants on Monday claimed responsibility for a pair of bomb blasts that killed at least 74 people, including one American, in Uganda's capital over the weekend. Dozens more were wounded.

The Somali Islamic fundamentalist group al-Shabab confirmed its involvement in the apparent suicide attacks. "We will carry out attacks against our enemy wherever they are," said Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for al-Shabab. "No one will deter us from performing our Islamic duty."

The explosions late Sunday occurred about 20 minutes apart, first at an Ethiopian restaurant and then at a rugby field, where soccer fans were watching the World Cup final. An American aid worker was among those killed.

Just two days before the attack, al-Shabab had called on militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi, as both countries contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, where the group has tried to impose a strict Islamic state. The African Union force backs Somalia's weak interim government, which the militants have vowed to topple.

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. The attack on the rugby club, where crowds sat outside watching a large-screen TV, left 49 dead, police said. Fifteen others were killed in the restaurant explosion.

"We were enjoying ourselves when a very noisy blast took place," Andrew Oketa, one of the hospitalized survivors, told The Associated Press. "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."

Survivors are seen at a restaurant in Kampala moments after a bomb blast i

Survivors are seen at an Ethiopian-owned restaurant in the Kabalagala area of Kampala late Sunday, moments after twin bomb blasts tore through the crowds of football fans watching the World Cup final, killing 64 and wounding scores more. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption AFP/Getty Images
Survivors are seen at a restaurant in Kampala moments after a bomb blast

Survivors are seen at an Ethiopian-owned restaurant in the Kabalagala area of Kampala late Sunday, moments after twin bomb blasts tore through the crowds of football fans watching the World Cup final, killing 64 and wounding scores more.

AFP/Getty Images

Three Ugandans from a Pennsylvania-based church group were killed and three others wounded in the restaurant attack, including 16-year-old American Emily Kerstetter.

Invisible Children, a San Diego-based aid group, identified the dead American as one of its workers, Nate Henn, 25, a native of Wilmington, Del.

Following the explosions, police immediately cordoned off the area to begin an investigation.

On Monday, a Ugandan government spokesman said there were indications that the attack was carried out by two suicide bombers. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni toured the blast sites and said he would pursue the perpetrators of the bombing.

"We will look for them and get them as we always do," Museveni said.

The FBI has sent agents based in neighboring Kenya to look into the circumstances of the death of the American citizen, the AP quoted a State Department official as saying on condition of anonymity. International police agency Interpol said in a statement Monday that it was dispatching its own team to Uganda.

A man attends to an injured woman Sunday after a bomb went off in a restaurant in Kampala

A man attends to an injured woman Sunday after a bomb went off in the Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala's Kabalagala district. The explosion occurred shortly before the break in the World Cup final, which many people had gathered at the restaurant to watch. Marcv Hoafer/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Marcv Hoafer/AP

President Obama described the attacks as deplorable and cowardly. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised Washington's help to the Ugandan government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The attacks raise concerns about the capabilities of al-Shabab, which the U.S. State Department has declared a terrorist organization. If confirmed that the group carried out the attacks, it would be the first time al-Shabab has struck outside Somalia.

Ethiopian, Indian and Congolese nationals were also among those killed and wounded, police said.

With reporting from NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton in Johannesburg, Benedict Moran in Arusha, Tanzania, NPR's Scott Neuman in Washington, D.C., and material from The Associated Press

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