Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to retaliate against the Somali Islamic extremist group that took responsibility for the bomb attacks in Kampala that claimed more than 70 lives. Mr. Museveni will push the African Union to upgrade the size and the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
The Ugandan leader invited reporters to his country home 500 kilometers from the capital to express outrage at the suicide bombings, which targeted World Cup soccer fans. He lashed out at the Somali insurgent group al-Shabab, which says it organized the attacks because Uganda supplies troops to support Somalia's Western-backed government.
Mr. Museveni charged that al-Shabab has been taken over by powerful Middle East extremist groups trying to establish Somalia as a safe haven for terrorists.
"I am very very furious. Very, very angry. Very angry but also not surprised because this is the character of these middle eastern groups," he said. "I don't know what happened to them. They say they are revolutionaries but their actions are the most reactionary, most backward. Cowardly, real criminals. Why do you target people who just watch football."
Mr. Museveni says he will use his position as host of this month's African Union summit to push for upgrading the mission in Somalia from peacekeeping to peace enforcement. Uganda is already the main troop contributor to the 5,000-member African Union Mission in Somalia, and Mr. Museveni recently joined other east African leaders in calling for establishment of a 20,000-troop international mission.
Uganda says it will send 2,000 more troops to Somalia.
In the meantime, the Ugandan president said he would ask parliament for authority for a swift offensive against al-Shabab, both at home and in Somalia.
"Justice delayed is justice denied. So that is why I would want to go for a quick solution, but the parliament would have to agree to allow that to happen. That is a wish by some of us citizens of Uganda," he said.
Several Ugandan and other east-African political figures and commentators have urged Uganda to bring its troops home. The country's main opposition leader this week asked why Uganda and Burundi are the only AMISOM troop contributors, exposing themselves to al-Shabab's wrath, while other African leaders look the other way.
Mr. Museveni, who often speaks fondly of his days as a guerrilla fighter, calls that kind of thinking misguided.
"Those who argue that the best way of avoiding trouble is to surrender Africa to terrorists from the Middle East, then they are definitely wrong. The correct way is to ensure that the people of Africa enjoy their freedom, which is what we fought for. We fought for freedom, not for slavery from some confused groups in the Middle East," he said.
Meanwhile, Kampala was returning to normal. Police say they have been responding to dozens of reports of suspicious packages from citizens sensitized by last Sunday's bombings.
Members of east African immigrant communities in Uganda, notably from Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia, reported scattered cases of harassment. But community leaders and human-rights activists say tensions have eased since the immediate hours after the bombings, when several immigrants were attacked.
Police Thursday refused to comment on the status of the bombing investigation, or on the status of six suspects, some of east African origin, who were taken into custody earlier this week.