UGANDAN police have recovered an unexploded suicide vest and arrested six people suspected of planning bombings that killed 76 people, including an Irish woman, on Sunday.
Marie Smith, a 51-year-old lay missionary worker from Dublin, was among those who died as a result of the two bomb blasts in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
Her death brings to 90 the number of Irish people who have died while abroad this year.
According to reports, Somali militants linked to al-Qaida said they had carried out the attacks on a restaurant and a rugby club in the Kampala while fans watched the World Cup final on television.
Al-Shabab yesterday said there had been no suicide bombers involved in the attack on Uganda.
According to an official, more than 20 Somalis and Ugandans were involved in planning the attacks.
A Ugandan intelligence source said that officials had received a tip-off last month that an attack was being planned. “On June 17, an informer from the Kisenyi suburb of Kampala told intelligence that some Somalis were planning an attack during the World Cup.
“So far we have arrested six people from that racket.”
Al-Shabab has threatened more attacks unless Uganda and Burundi withdraw their peacekeepers from the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, where the militants are fighting the government and control large parts of the country.
According to police, the suicide vest found in a disco hall near the site of the other blasts was designed so it could also be planted, rather than worn.
Al-Shabab has banned watching soccer matches, and the bombings were seen as a chance to kill unbelievers while taking revenge for what is seen as an invasion by Ugandan troops.
Coordinated attacks are a hallmark of al-Qaida and groups linked to Osama bin Laden’s militant network. If confirmed, it would be the first time al-Shabab have taken their push for power internationally.
According to the African Union, Uganda would still host a summit of African leaders this month and it would not be deterred from its peacekeeping mission.
A spokesperson for the union said: “There will be no danger to visiting heads of state and dignitaries… The summit will not be disturbed by this incident.”
However, Uganda’s opposition Forum for Democratic Change urged president Yoweri Museveni to pull his peacekeepers out and said it planned a withdrawal if it won elections in 2011.
A spokesperson said: “There is no peace to keep in Somalia and Uganda has no strategic interest there. We’re just sacrificing our children for nothing.”
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