BY PETER HEINLEIN FOR VOA NEWS – Police in Uganda have released photographs of the reconstructed faces of two suicide bombers who struck in Kampala during the World Cup soccer finals, killing 76 people. A number of Pakistanis are among more than 20 people detained in connection with the bombing investigation.
Ugandan police are asking the public for help in identifying two reconstructed heads, one recovered from each of the Kampala bomb sites.
One of the faces belonged to a young man with lighter skin and the thin features normally associated with people from the Horn of Africa, including Somalia. The other was that of a darker skinned man with the broader facial features more commonly found in other parts of the continent.
Uganda’s Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura says the two heads are almost certainly those of the suicide bombers. “These two remains, unlike others, (are still) unclaimed and unidentified since Sunday. This is now a week. All other bodies of the deceased have been positively identified and claimed by their kin. Except these two. That cannot be a coincidence,” he said.
Kayihura says a worldwide alert has been issued in an attempt to determine the identities of the bombers. “Interpol, as well as the FBI and other friendly police services have undertaken to put them on their own systems. We want to give wide publicity because their identity will be crucial in this investigation,” he said.
Police agencies from several countries have joined in the probe. The FBI is reported to have sent a team of more than 60 investigators to assist.
The al-Qaida linked Somali extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the blasts, saying they were meant to punish Uganda for sending peacekeepers to support Somalia’s Western-backed transitional government.
Ugandans troops make up the majority of the 5,200-member African Union peacekeeping force.
Kayihura confirmed to reporters that among the more than 20 people being detained in connection with the case, several are Pakistani nationals. But he cautioned that at this point, no one has been charged in the case. “It is too early to really talk about any suspect directly linked to these blasts at this stage. There is nothing dramatic. We have information about which they must explain themselves. They are not only Pakistanis by the way. They are also Ugandans as well with them,” he said.
The police official says foreigners acting alone could not have organized the bombings. He said investigators are operating under the assumption that whoever planned the attacks must have had local support. “Of course there is a foreign element. A very strong foreign element, especially the planning, inspiration, the coordination, the support, but in terms of execution, you cannot get a foreigner dropping here. He does not know the place, he must have a local network,” he said.
Kayihura says investigators are looking into the possible involvement of the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan rebel group with suspected ties to al-Qaida.
With dozens of heads of state expected to arrive this week for an African Union summit, the Ugandan capital remains on high alert a week after the bombing. Long lines of cars can be seen at the city’s supermarket parking lots, as every car is searched. Every bar and restaurant has guards at the entrance with metal detectors.
Inspector General Kayihura says extra precautions for the summit will included a sharp increase in the number of troops and police on the streets, over and above what had earlier been planned for the high security event.