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Bombs Kill 74 During World Cup Viewing in Uganda

July 12, 2010 at 12:00 AM EST
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GWEN IFILL: In Uganda, terrorism turns celebration into tragedy.

The names of some of the dead were tacked to a tree outside a hospital in the Ugandan capital of Kampala this morning. Inside, survivors of the twin blasts flooded the wards.

WOMAN: The hospital actually has been overloaded with patients.

GWEN IFILL: At least 74 people died in the bombings, including one American aid worker. Scores more were wounded. They had all gathered to watch and cheer the World Cup final, which was being played in Johannesburg.

But at that moment of African continental pride, as the successful tournament was ending, the bombers struck — targeted: an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby club.

This man survived the club blast.

MAN: I smelled the gunpowder. Then I realized it was a bomb. I began shouting, bomb, bomb, bomb. Take care. Bomb, bomb. I don’t know how I survived, but it’s God’s grace and the hand of God on me.

GWEN IFILL: American Thomas Kramer was at the Ethiopian restaurant.

THOMAS KRAMER, bomb survivor: I have a big laceration in my leg. It’s like this deep, which I have to get surgery again for. Our friend Becky (ph), she was sitting two seats away from me, and she didn’t make it. She passed away.

GWEN IFILL: Today, the Somali-based Islamist terror group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks. The al-Qaida-linked organization has long threatened strikes outside Somalia.

But this is apparently the first time it has followed through. In a statement, the group said: “We will carry out attacks against our enemy wherever they are. No one will deter us from performing our Islamic duty.”

The group also said it hit Uganda because its troops make up part of an African Union peacekeeping force in nearly lawless Somalia. It said attacks could continue unless the force withdraws.

Earlier today, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni visited the attack sites and hospitals. He condemned the backwards and cowardly attackers, adding: “We shall look for them and get them wherever they are. If they want to fight, they should find soldiers, not attack people who are just enjoying themselves.”

President Obama phoned Museveni to condemn the attacks and pledged to provide assistance. At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley said Al-Shabab’s bombing wouldn’t deter efforts in Somalia.

P.J. CROWLEY, U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs: We have been very encouraged by what President Museveni has told us. He has indicated to us that Uganda remains committed to the mission in Mogadishu. And that probably is the strongest retort to Al-Shabab.

GWEN IFILL: That Somali mission and no doubt last night’s attacks will be on the agenda at a long-scheduled African Union summit in Kampala next week.