Uganda - United States

Suicide bomber identified in Uganda blasts

AFP

A suicide bomber was involved in one of the two bomb attacks that killed at least 76 people in the Ugandan capital Kampala, a government official confirmed Wednesday. As police compiled evidence the attacks were claimed by a Somali group with links to Al-Qaeda, United States officials heightened their diplomatic response to extremists elements across Africa.

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Matia Kasaija, Ugandan State Minister for Internal Affairs, said the attacker blew himself up at an Ethiopian restaurant in Kabalagala, a southern Kampala district, as crowds watched last Sunday's World Cup final.

"We can confirm at least for the case of Kabalagala that it was a suicide bomber", he said.

Ugandan police on Tuesday began arresting suspects in the attacks claimed by Somalia's Al-Shebab militants, which have links with Al-Qaeda.

"We have arrested some suspicious characters", Kasaija said. "These are people of interest. Some are Ugandans, some are Somalis."

United States president Barack Obama warned Africans that groups like Al-Qaeda say their "innocent" lives as cheap.

"What you've seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organisations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself", Obama told the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

"They see it as a potential place where you can carry out ideological battles that kill innocents without regard to long-term consequences."

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obama was making clear Al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups "do not value African life.

"In short, Al-Qaeda is a racist organisation that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life", the official said.

Another official confirmed Al-Shebab's claim to responsibility for the blasts was legitimate and that the US had been monitoring the group's Al-Qaeda links.

The official added they nonetheless had no forewarning of the Kampala attacks.

US officials drew parallels between the Uganda attacks and the 1998 bombigs of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania to underline fears of Al-Qaeda threats growing inside and outside the continent.

"On the one hand, you have a vision of an Africa on the move, an Africa that is unified, an Africa that is modernising and creating opportunities", the US president said.

"On the other hand, you've got a vision of Al-Qaeda and (Al-Shebab) that is about destruction and death."

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