Monday, July 12, 2010

Twin Blasts Rock Uganda

The Ugandan capital has been rocked by twin blasts that left 64 people and many others injured. According to BBC reports, one of the blasts happened at a rugby field while the other occured at an Ethiopian restaurant. While it is premature to speculate at this time those behind the carnage, fingers are being pointed at Somalia's al-Shabab who have in the past threatened Uganda. Uganda has peacekeeping troops representing the African Union in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. In the past, al-Shabab has been battling AMISOM troops from Uganda and Burundi and those of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Immediately after the blasts in Kampala, a representative of al-Shabab heaped praise on those who engineered the plot. The chief of police in Kampala thinks it is al-Shabab that carried out the bombings. It is being reported that an American from Pennsylvania was among the injured. The President of the United States, Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton deplored those who carried out the despicable acts in Kampala saying that help is on the way to apprehend those suspected of being behind the heinous acts.

Despite al-Shabab calling for vengeance against AMISOM troops in the past, it has never explored extremist avenues outside of Somalia. If proven beyond reasonable doubt that al-Shabab had a hand in the Kampala bombings, then it will have demonstrated its capability of inflicting harm in places previously thought of as beyond its reach. Al-shabab and its sister faction Hizb al-Islam believe in the creation of a greater emirate for Somalia. Leaders of Islamist groups fighting in Somalia are known by their nom de guerres which often have Arabic rhymings.

In southern and central Somalia where the two factions control large swathes of land, the institution of Islamic sharia seem to hold for now. Many towns have been given Arabic names; residents have been instructed to observe Islamic etiquettes and shun colonial or European-imposed ways of life. Women are required to wear full hijab and separate quotas have been assigned for their use in public transportation; men are required to keep beards and shorten moustache; the carrying of the rosary is forbidden; ringing of school bells are unacceptable; watching of the world cup soccer games is forbidden; women may not wear bras nor wear make-up; and it is compulsory for all able-bodied men and women to partake in jihad agaisnt the enemies of Islam.

Uganda is a small country in East Africa and is a member of the Intergovenmental Authority on Development (IGAD)that comprise founding member-states Kenya, Djibouti, Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Many innocent civilians have perished in the frequent skrmishes between the Islamists and AMISOM forces prompting leaders of the Islamists to issue fatwas or religious edicts calling for revenge against the nations of Uganda and Burundi. In a meeting recently held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, member-states agreed to send extra 2,000 troops to Somalia to boost the 6,100 force already in Mogadishu. The agreement signed in Addis Ababa triggered widespread demonstrations in areas under the control of al-Shabab and Hizb al-Islam-the two formidable factions fighting for control of Mogadishu.

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