Rebels own up to bomb blasts

SOMALIA'S Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels claimed responsibility yesterday for bombings in Kampala that killed 74 people as they watched the World Cup final in the region's worst attacks in 12 years.

The twin attacks in the Ugandan capital dampened Africa's post-World Cup euphoria and drew a barrage of global condemnation.

Shebab's spokesperson Ali Mohamoud Rage told reporters in Mogadishu: "We are behind the attack because we are at war with them."

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.

Explosions ripped through a sports bar and an Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala where people had gathered to watch the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.

"The latest official count is 74 confirmed dead," Fred Opolot, a Ugandan government spokesperson, said.

Police chief Kale Kayihura said one Irish woman was among the dead and added that two bodies had not been claimed by anybody and "were of interest" to the security services.

He explained that three blasts went off and that while one was a planted explosive device, the other two might have been the result of suicide explosions.

President Jacob Zuma yesterday expressed shock and dismay at the "deplorable" bomb blasts.

"(The) South African government condemns in the strongest possible terms these acts of terrorism aimed at maiming and hurting innocent people," Zuma said in a statement.