The reclusive leader of Somalia's Al Shabaab militant group has claimed full responsibility for the July 11 bombings that killed upwards of 70 people in the Ugandan capital, Radio Garowe reports.
Sheikh Ahmed Godane, alias "Abu Zubeyr," issued an audio message speaking about the Kampala bombings that targeted civilians watching the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands at a crowded rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant frequented by foreigners.
"AMISOM is causing more suffering to the Mogadishu people than did the Americans and the Ethiopians," said Al Shabaab's leader, who is never seen in public, adding: "The bombings [in Kampala] was the beginning of vengeance for those [Mogadishu] victims."
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AMISOM is the 6,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force, composed of Ugandan and Burundian troops, that has been deployed in the Somali capital Mogadishu since March 2007. AMISOM protects the headquarters of the weak Somali interim government, as well as the capital’s main port and the international airport.
"If Uganda and Burundi do not withdraw their troops [from Somalia], there will be more bombings in Kampala and Bujumbura [Burundi capital]," Abu Zubeyr warned.
"AMISOM troops regularly kill Somali civilians on Mogadishu streets…this is a suffering that even Ethiopia did not do," said Abu Zubeyr, while referring to the presence of Ethiopian troops in Mogadishu in 2007-2009.
Al Shabaab's leader said the cell responsible for the Uganda bombings is known as "Salah Ali Nabhan Brigade," named after an Al Qaeda fugitive killed in a U.S. air strike in September 2009 in Al Shabaab-controlled Lower Shabelle region, south of Mogadishu.
He sent his "congratulations" to the attackers and urged others to continue such attacks against targets in Uganda and Burundi.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to reinforce AMISOM peacekeepers with 2,000 more troops "if other African nations do not volunteer" to send troops to Somalia.