News / Africa

Security Tight As Kampala Buries Bomb Victims

The Ugandan capital, Kampala is burying victims of the worst terrorist attack in the city's history. The death toll stands at 73 from the twin bomb attacks that targeted soccer fans watching the World Cup final.  The bombs have sparked fears and at least one reprisal attack against foreigners.

It was a day of funerals, as grieving relatives said farewell to loved ones killed while celebrating what was perhaps Africa's finest moment in sports.

Five-hundred mourners gathered at the Kampala's Roman Catholic cathedral to honor 29-year-old Alice Kyalimpa.  She and two colleagues had gone to watch the event on a big-screen TV at a local rugby club.

All three died instantly when a blast tore the place apart.

A local newspaper Wednesday published a picture taken moments before the blast showing a hooded figure police believe might have been the suicide bomber.  Police also showed an unexploded bomb vest found at a disco club that was apparently intended to be a third target.

Investigators say all but two of the blast victims have been identified.

The unidentified remains are two severed heads believed to have belonged to the two bombers.  Police pathologist Dr. Moses Byaruhanga says identification will be difficult.

"They are dark-skinned, and we have taken samples for DNA.  It is going to be profiled, and of course samples have been taken, swabs and they will be useful in future investigation," he said.

Police say six suspects have been taken into custody in the bombing investigation.  Uganda's information Minister Princess Kabakumba Matsiko confirms several are foreigners, but declines to reveal their nationalities, saying they have not been confirmed.

Anti-foreigner sentiments is said to be running high in the capital after the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks.  Police pathologist Dr. Byaruhanga confirmed the body of a non-Ugandan was brought to the city morgue after reports he had been beaten by an angry crowd.

"We have a white-skinned body in the mortuary.  This morning I got that body with my colleague. However, we did not perform post mortem there and then ... the man has no blast injuries," said Byaruhanga.

People from Horn of Africa countries Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia are said to be staying off the streets after reports of anti-foreigner violence.  

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye describes the public mood as a mixture of fear and anger from people who feel their country has contributed a lot to help Somalia through its contributions to the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM.

"Our people are worried, but do not forget terrorism has its double edge," he said. "It also causes people go become more resolute, more determined in confronting the source of terror, so you will find both feelings in our society.  Unfortunately some of those feelings are being wrongly expressed because I have heard many reports so far that anybody who looks like a Somali is being attacked."

Fears of further bomb attacks have raised security levels in Kampala to unprecedented levels.  Authorities say scores of reports have been received from citizens about suspicious items and activities.

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