The United States vowed Monday to support Uganda after major bombings, sending the FBI to assist in the probe and pledging to pressure Somalia’s “hateful” Shebab insurgents.
President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with President Yoweri Museveni and offered to provide “any support and assistance” the Ugandan government requested, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
“The leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to working together to combat terrorist organizations that threaten innocent civilians around the world,” Gibbs told reporters.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks, in which 74 people were killed in twin bombings on revelers watching the final of the World Cup in South Africa.
“What they seek to destroy and who they seek to kill — innocent people — just as the continent of Africa, just as the country of South Africa, shows the world what it had built, I think speaks volumes to the hateful motive” of the assailants, Gibbs said.
A three-person team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation is in Kampala to help collect evidence, with two officers from US Diplomatic Security arriving later Monday, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
Another FBI team was on standby in the United States to go to Uganda if needed, Crowley said.
Without offering details, the spokesman said the United States had evidence to believe Shebab’s claims that it carried out the attack.
The movement’s top leader had warned in an audio message earlier this month that Uganda would face retaliation for contributing to an African Union force supporting the Western-backed Somali transitional government.
Museveni, in a separate call with Johnnie Carson, the top US diplomat for sub-Saharan Africa, “indicated to us that Uganda remains committed to the mission in Mogadishu,” Crowley said.
“That probably is the strongest retort to al-Shebab, that we are going to continue to support those who want to responsibly govern in Somalia and will resist those who have a narrow, brutal, violent vision of the future in that country,” Crowley said.
The United States has strongly supported President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s transitional government in Somalia, seeing it as the best hope in years for a country that has lacked an effective government for two decades.
Under the Obama administration, the United States has stepped up its commitment by sending arms to the transitional government to fight the Shebab and other insurgents.