By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent
KAMPALA, UGANDA (Worthy News)– Bomb attacks killed at least 64 people, including an American aid worker, and injured several American Christians among others at two sites in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, where people gathered to watch the World Cup, Worthy News established early Monday, July 12.
The attacks at a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant were believed to have been carried out by an al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group, al-Shabab, which has declared war against Christians and states supporting Somalia’s fragile government, in its fight against an Islamic insurgency, police said.
A California-based aid group, Invisible Children of San Diego that helps child soldiers, identified the dead American as Nate “Oteka” Henn, who was killed on the rugby field where it said “hundreds of people” had gathered. “It is with deep sadness that we write to tell you that one of our dear friends has been lost in the terrorist attack earlier today in Kampala,” the group explained in a statement monitored by Worthy News and its news partner BosNewsLife. The age of the young man was not immediately released.
“Nate worked with us at Invisible Children for a year and a half and leaves behind a legacy of honor, integrity, and service.” He worked with several former child soldiers-turned-students who gave him the Acholi name “Oteka”, which means “The Strong One.”
“Some of them were with him at the time of the attack,” the group added.
“From traveling the United States without pay advocating for the freedom of abducted child soldiers in the war [of the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army] Joseph Kony, to raising thousands of dollars to put war-affected Ugandan students in school, Nate lived a life that demanded explanation,” the group said on its Website. “He sacrificed his comfort to live in the humble service of God and of a better world, and his is a life to be emulated.”
Several Americans from a Pennsylvania church group were wounded in the restaurant attack including Kris Sledge, 18, of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.
“I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running,” Sledge told reporters from the hospital.
His right leg was reportedly wrapped and he had burns on his face. “I love the place here but I’m wondering why this happened and who did this … At this point we’re just glad to be alive.”
Uganda’s government said the first blast occurred at the Ethiopian Village restaurant at 10:55 p.m. local time Sunday, July 11. Two more blasts happened at the rugby field 20 minutes later, the statement said.
The explosions came just two days after an al-Shabab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi — two nations that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.
The attacks were not expected African Union summit being held in Uganda from July 19-27. Many African leaders are expected to attend.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton joined U.S. President Barack Obama in offering condolences and added, “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.”
International militants have flocked to Somalia because the country’s government controls only a few square miles of the capital, Mogadishu, observers said. That leaves most of country as lawless territory where insurgents can train and plan attacks unimpeded. Several Christians and others al-Shabab deemed dangerous for its Islamic agenda have been killed in Somalia.