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More arrests in Ugandan bombings

With US aid, Museveni government cracks down on terror group.

Ugandans mourn for dead
Family members grieve during a memorial service for six Eritreans killed in a twin bomb attack in Uganda's capital Kampala on July 11. (Benedicte Desrus/Reuters)

KAMPALA, Uganda — Police arrested more suspects in the terror bombings that killed 78 people and wounded 85 here almost three weeks ago.

In addition to the fatal blasts at the Kyadondo Rugby Club and an Ethiopian restaurant, Ugandan police and FBI investigators from the United States uncovered a fourth undetonated, mobile phone-triggered bomb and a suicide vest at a disco in Makindye — a Kampala suburb where the American Recreation Association, popularly called the 'American Club', is located.

Twenty-two suspects, mainly Somalis, have been detained in connection with the unexploded bomb and vest. A mobile phone, which police said is related to the attempted bombing, was also found among those arrested, according to local reports.

Ugandan media reported that a Congolese suspect is also in custody. The Congolese man is believed to have been sent by the Somali rebel group Al Shabaab to spy on key American installations in Uganda. His actions drew the interest of FBI agents here, the reports said.

With forensic support from the FBI, Ugandan police are beginning to piece together clearer profiles of some of the suicide bombers.

The Somali Islamist insurgents, Al Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the explosions, saying the bombs were revenge for the presence of Ugandan peacekeepers in their country.

Sheikh Ali Dhere, an Al Shabaab spokesman, added insult to injury in a recent statement regarding the African Union’s decision this week to expand the size of its force in Somalia from 6,000 to 8,000 troops.

"In the face of pressure, the puppet governments ... begged for massive military support ... They only got a 'promise' of small increase in the number of soldiers," said Ali Dhere.

Ali Dhere’s statement comes shortly after a statement by Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, who attended a closed door meeting with east African leaders, and permanent UN Security Council representatives from the United States, France and Britain.

Mahiga said the U.N. Security Council believes that there is no need to change the current mandate, "under the existing mandate, the forces on the ground could act in a more responsible but robust fashion."