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Uganda: Death toll rises in terror bombings

Somali rebel group Al Shabaab claims responsibility for deadly explosions

“We have been suspecting that these people could be planning something like this,” said the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura. Confirming who he meant by “these people,” Kayihura said “Al Shabaab.”

 Al Shabaab commander Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, said that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda, but did not confirm Al Shabaab was responsible, according to Associated Press reports from Mogadishu, Somalia.

"Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah's anger be upon those who are against us," Sheik said.

During weekly Friday prayers in Somalia two days before the double bombing, another Al Shabaab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi — two nations that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.

In addition to its troops in Mogadishu, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in programs backed by the U.S. and the European Union.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the U.S. was prepared to provide any necessary assistance to the Ugandan government.

U.S. President Barack Obama "is deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks, and sends his condolences to the people of Uganda and the loved ones of those who have been killed or injured," Vietor said.

Kenya's foreign minister, Moses M. Wetangula, told The Associated Press last week that enough veteran militants from the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts have relocated to Somalia to spark worry inside the international community.

International militants have flocked to Somalia because the country's government controls only a few square miles of the capital, Mogadishu, leaving most of the rest of the country as lawless territory where insurgents can train and plan attacks unimpeded.

Editor's note: This dispatch has been updated with the latest death toll and the news that Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the bombings.