A radical Islamic group which claimed responsibility for the late Sunday terrorist attacks in Uganda's capital city of Kampala bragged about having “killed many Christians,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
So far 74 people have died after Sunday’s three synchronized explosions. The attack injured at least five American missionaries. The Somalia-based militant group al-Shabaab (“The Youth”) released a statement claiming they had carried out the attacks.
The explosions hit an Ethiopian restaurant and a rugby club where crowds of people, including many expatriates, were watching the Spain-Netherlands World Cup soccer final.
"We will carry out attacks against our enemy wherever they are," said Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, speaking for Al-Shabaab.
"We have reached our objective," said another al-Shabaab representative, who declined to be named, the Journal reports. "We killed many Christians in the enemy capital."
Various news sources are reporting that the blasts injured five or six American missionaries, according to Kathleen Kind, pastor of Christ Community United Methodist Church in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, which sent the missionaries.
"We got [to the restaurant] early so we could be near the screen," said Lori Ssebulime, who regularly hosts mission groups as an American married to a Ugandan, said to the Associated Press. "The blast happened. It was total chaos. I fell over backwards. Everything was gray."
According to the Birmingham News, another group of missionaries from Asbury United
Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama had come to the restaurant to watch the game.
The Birmingham group says they were only a few feet away from people who died in the attack.
"There was blood everywhere. There was blood on us," said Allen Nunnally, 23. "At first we didn't know if it was ours. But we were literally untouched. We are so blessed and so in awe of God's protection of us."
Others were not so fortunate. Nate Henn, an American worker for the nonprofit group Invisible Children, was killed at the rugby club. Henn's former youth pastor and others eulogized him. Invisible Children said: "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."
This is not the first time al-Shabaab has made headlines during the World Cup. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the group has killed at least five people in Somalia for watching the Cup, which they call “a Satanic act.”
According to ABC News, al-Shabaab has mainly confined their activities to Somalia before now, though Somali officials have believed them able and willing to strike elsewhere.
But both mission groups say they plan to continue working in Uganda.
“This church is very mission minded,” Rev. Kind told CNN. “Many people have a strong heart for the people of Africa. Every other year we send a mission to our sister congregation in Uganda.”
"We have big plans for this city," Nunnally says. "Right now, we're giving all glory and honor to God.”
Update (7/13/10): Archbishop Henry Orombi of the Anglican Communion's Church of Uganda has released a statement in which he urged Uganda to be a "good neighbor" to Somalia despite the recent attacks.
"I call upon each one of us to desist from anger and revenge; this will only perpetuate the pain we already feel," Orombi said. "Revenge is not a solution and neither is a sectarian approach to this problem helpful.
"Let us instead now focus our energies on being a part of the fight against terrorism in our country....It may cost this nation a lot to try and be a good neighbor to the Somalis who are struggling to have a governable nation."