July 11, 2010 / 10:00 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Uganda explosions kill 23, targets soccer fans

* Police report many casualties

* Bombs target soccer fans

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By Elias Biryabarema

KAMPALA, July 12 (Reuters) - Two separate explosions killed at least 23 people packed into bars in the Ugandan capital Kampala to watch the World Cup final on Sunday night, police said.

There was no immediate indication of who launched the attack. But al Qaeda-inspired al Shabaab extremists in Somalia have previously threatened to attack Uganda and Burundi for sending peacekeeping troops to the anarchic country to prop up the Western-backed government.

“The information we have indicates 13 people have died here at the Ethiopian Village (restaurant) and many others are injured and more than 10 people are reported to have died at the rugby club,” Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura told reporters at the scene of one blast.

Police said there were many casualties at both blast sites.

Heavily armed troops cordoned off the area around the Ethiopian Village and evacuated the wounded, a Reuters witness said.

The Ethiopian Village is located in Kampala’s Kabalagala district, a popular night-life spot which was heaving with soccer fans watching the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. “The bombs went off in fully packed bars as people were watching the World Cup finals,” police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba said.

Police said it was possible those behind the attacks were targeting foreigners.

“The information we have indicates the people who have attacked the Ethiopian Village were probably targeting expatriates,” Kayihura said.

”We have evil-minded characters who have been warning us, like the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces), al Shabaab and the Lord’s Reistance Army.

The Lord’s Resistance Army waged a two-decade war in northern Uganda before crossing into Sudan and further afield into central Africa. In May, the Ugandan government said the ADF could be regrouping along its western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed on Saturday told Reuters he was worried by the growing number of foreign jihadists joining the ranks of Islamic insurgents and said they posed a growing threat to regional security. [ID:nLDE66901V]

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust an Islamist movement from Mogadishu. That sparked the Islamist insurgency which still rages.

Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Richard Lough and Angus MacSwan; email nairobi.newsroom@reuters.com; tel +254 727 555 201

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