U.S. Condemns 'Cowardly' Bomb Attacks
SOURCE: American.gov (Washington DC)
By Stephen Kaufman
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Obama administration officials strongly condemned terror attacks in Uganda July 11 that targeted spectators who had gathered in Kampala at a restaurant and a rugby sports center to watch the final game of the World Cup, hosted by South Africa.
In a July 12 statement, Clinton offered condolences to family and friends of the victims and expressed support for Ugandan authorities.
"At this tragic moment, the United States stands with Uganda. We have a long-standing, close friendship with the people and government of Uganda and will work with them to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice," Clinton said.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said July 12 that the United States has no reason to doubt the Somali terror group al-Shabab's claim of responsibility for the attacks.
"Unfortunately, we see this contrast between the vision and the hope that South Africa inspired ... through this past weeks and how that contrasts with the cowardice and destruction espoused by al-Shabab, which used the celebration of the World Cup in Kampala to commit cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians," Crowley said.
According to press reports, the three bombs killed at least 74 people. Crowley said that one American was killed and five others were hospitalized.
In March 2008, the State Department designated al-Shabab, a Somalia-based extremist group with known ties to al-Qaida, as a foreign terrorist organization. Crowley said the group had threatened Uganda because of its participation in the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni, visited the rugby center and said through reporters July 12 in Kampala: "If you want to fight, why don't you attack soldiers or military installations instead of fighting innocent people watching football?"
President Obama and other U.S. officials have spoken with Museveni in the aftermath of the attacks. Crowley said the Ugandan leader remains committed to his country's participation in the Somali peacekeeping mission. "If this was somehow aimed at punishing or weakening Uganda's resolve, we think that this has backfired," Crowley said.
Crowley said "the strongest retort to al-Shabab" is that "we are going to continue to support those who want to responsibly govern in Somalia, and we'll resist those who have a narrow, brutal ... violent vision of the future in that country."
The United States "stands shoulder to shoulder with Uganda in the fight against terrorism," Crowley said, both in Somalia and in Uganda's efforts against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
He said President Obama has sent a three-person team from the FBI to Kampala to help authorities collect evidence, and they are being joined July 12 by two members of the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
"We have an additional FBI team standing by in the United States, ready to assist if needed. But we will continue to do everything in our power to assist Uganda in bringing the perpetrators of these attacks to justice," Crowley said.
The American who was killed was identified by his employer, the charity Invisible Children, as Nate Henn, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina. Invisible Children works with Ugandan children who have been abducted by rebel groups like the LRA and forced to become child soldiers or into sex slavery.
The organization's website paid tribute to Henn's dedication to Uganda's children in a July 11 blog post.
"From traveling the United States without pay advocating for the freedom of abducted child soldiers in Joseph Kony's war, to raising thousands of dollars to put war-affected Ugandan students in school, Nate lived a life that demanded explanation," Invisible Children said.
"He was not serving some idea of downtrodden Africa. He was serving Innocent, Tony, Boni, Ronald, Papito, Sunday and Lilian. These are some of our Ugandan students who fell in love with Nate's wit, strength, character and steadfast friendship. They gave him the Acholi name Oteka, which means 'The Strong One.' Some of them were with him at the time of the attack," the blog post says.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)
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