Thursday, July 15, 2010

FBI agents take suspects’ heads

KAMPALA - A suicide bomber carried out one of the twin bomb attacks that killed 74 people in the city as they watched the World Cup final on Sunday, security agencies said yesterday.

State minister for internal affairs, Matia Kasaija, said the security agencies have established that the Kabalagala blast was executed by a suicide bomber. He, however, said it is not yet clear whether the Kyadondo rugby club blast, moments after the Kabalagala attack, was also carried out by a suicide bomber.  “The Kabalagala incident has been confirmed that it was carried out by a suicide bomber. However, the Kyadondo incident was similar but we are not 100 percent sure,” the minister said in a phone interview yesterday.

Two heads believed to be of Somalis suspected to be suicide bombers were recovered from Kabalagala and the rugby club in Lugogo moments after the grisly incidents.  The heads were taken away from the city mortuary by the American intelligence agency, FBI, on Monday evening for further investigations, sources said.  “There is nothing strange about that. There is a purpose and it is part of the investigations,” Kasaija explained. Four FBI operatives arrived at the mortuary at about 5pm and left shortly after with the heads in bags to see if they match records of other terrorists, sources said. The heads were delivered to the city mortuary on Monday after the blasts.

It is not clear where they took the heads, but sources said the FBI and local investigators were concerned about the identity of the heads.  “If two of the three explosions were set off by suicide bombers, how do you explain the third explosion,” the source said. By the time the FBI took the heads, they were still recognisable.

However, speaking at the Media Centre yesterday, Dr. Byaruhanga said the heads were taken for DNA and other forensic tests.  Addressing journalists at the same centre yesterday, Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said the Force had arrested six suspects in connection with the blasts. The Police on Wednesday arrested a man suspected to be a Somali, Shafique Abdulnoor, who was reportedly found loitering in Katwe, a Kampala suburb.  Abdulnoor, who was detained at Katwe Police Station, did not have identification documents, a source said, adding that he crossed into Uganda via Kenya. He had a bag that contained shoes.

Meanwhile, Interpol said on Monday it would send a team to Uganda to beef up the investigations. Secretary general Ronald Noble described the attack as “despicable and cowardly”. He said Police chief Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura requested for the assistance. “This attack on innocent victims who had simply gone out to enjoy the World Cup must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and those behind it can only be regarded as cowardly,” Noble said in a statement on Interpol’s website. He said Interpol would provide on-site support for the investigators. The announcement comes after Kenyan anti-terrorism experts arrived on Tuesday. “We also have teams from the USA, the UK and other countries. They are here working,” Kasaija said.

Speaking at the Media Centre briefing, the Ugandan Police doctor, Moses Byaruhanga, said the death toll had been reduced from 76 to 74. He said the bodies of other people who died of other causes had been included by error.  He said the city mortuary had handled 71 bodies from the blasts––50 of them men and 19 women. He also gave their nationalties.  Two heads were also unidentified, he said.  Al-Qaeda inspired Somalia-based militants, al-Shabaab, have since claimed responsibility for the attacks.

An unexploded suicide vest was recovered at Ice-Link Discotheque in Makindye, which should have been the third strike.  While al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, Kayihura pointed a finger at the ADF rebels.  But they denied involvement.

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