More arrests in Ugandan bombings

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."

In his response Ali Dhere further taunted, "If (peacekeepers) are harming our people, they should know that their people will not rest in total comfort."

U.S. President Barack Obama countered the statements from Al Shabaab. U.S. attorney general Eric Holder came to Uganda to speak at the African Union summit here in Kampala.

"President Obama recognizes the growing importance of the African Union, he understands that a stronger Africa means a stronger America," said Holder.

Holder directly addressed the Ugandan terror attacks and seemed to connect them with Sept. 11 and the August 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

"I am proud to stand with the people of Uganda ... but I am deeply sorry that we are now bound, not only by friendship and partnership, but also by a shared loss, a shared threat and a shared grief."

He spoke about the American student, Nate Henn, who was killed in the attacks.

"Known as 'Oteka' — the strong one — he had traveled from the United States to help Uganda’s most vulnerable children ... Tragically, Nate's own future has been lost to the ages."

Holder also eulogized Ugandan Stephen Tinka, Irishwoman Marie Smith and a Sri Lankan, Ramaraja Krishna, who were killed while watching the World Cup final.

The attorney general proclaimed, "I am proud to be counted among the African Diaspora, this continent is my ancestral home, I am of this place.

“Your work is of special and emotional importance to me, and not only because I am proud to serve alongside my nation's first African-American president or proud to be its first African-American attorney general,” said Holder. “I also join with you, and with my fellow citizens, in celebrating Africa's success because I recognize that the fate of my own country is intertwined with each of yours."