An African Union summit in Kampala has opened with two minutes of silence for victims of the suicide bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital that killed 76 fans watching the World Cup soccer final. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced progress in identifying the planners of the attack.
Mr. Museveni told the audience of more than 30 heads of state many of the organizers of the twin bomb attacks have been arrested. He said their interrogation is yielding good information.
The Somali extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks, but Mr. Museveni suggested the authors of the attack were from outside Africa. "I am glad the whole of Africa has condemned these cowards. Let us now act in concert and sweep them out of Africa. Let them go back to Asia and Middle East where I understand many of them come from," he said.
Ugandan police have confirmed that Pakistanis and Somalis are among those in custody in connection with the bombing investigation.
The top U.S. law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder, also condemned the bomb blasts. Delivering a summit message on behalf of President Barack Obama, Holder pledged full U.S. Support for the African Union's AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
"Al-Shabab, a terrorist group operating in Somalia with ties to al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for murdering and injuring these innocent victims. And its leaders have infamously described these bombings as warranted acts of vengeance. But make no mistake; these attacks were nothing more than reprehensible acts of cowardice, inspired by a radical and corrupt ideology that systematically denies human rights, devalues women and girls, and perverts the peaceful traditions and teachings of a great religion," Holder said.
The summit is expected to upgrade the mandate of AMISOM peacekeepers to allow them to respond with greater force to repel al-Shabab attacks aimed at toppling Somalia's transitional government. A summit communique will also increase AMISOM's authorized strength from the current 8,000.
President Museveni suggested the more robust rules of engagement may already be in effect for the mostly Ugandan troops comprising AMISOM. "On the 4th and the 21st of July, those terrorists attacked the Transitional Federal Government forces, and the forces of the African Union. They got the punishment they deserved. Transitional Federal Government and African Union forces defeated the attacks," he said.
The three-day African summit faces a heavy agenda, including a tough examination of why the continent lags so far behind the rest of the world in maternal and child health care. They will also consider Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's controversial proposal for speedy creation of a union government.
Many other heads of state favor a much slower pace of continental integration than Mr. Gadhafi. But the Linyan leader is reported to be tempting opponents of his plan with an offer of $90 billion to ease what experts say would be a painful transition on a continent with a wide disparity between a few wealthy nations and some of the world's poorest.