The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for twin bombings outside a packed Uganda church early Sunday, as both Prime Minister Yoweri Museveni and the government in Uganda condemned the attacks.
In a statement, the Islamic State African Province, an al-Qaida offshoot, said it claimed responsibility for the bombing, claiming responsibility on Twitter for the first time. It promised “may Allah be pleased with you.”
The attacks in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, took place in two locations. In the first, an explosion hit the Prophet Mohamed Islamic Centre, an Islamic religious and community center, killing at least five people. Then another blast followed in a nearby area, killing at least seven others, a number that officials have said could rise.
President Museveni, who visited the explosion site on Sunday, blamed IS for both attacks. In an address broadcast live on Uganda’s national television, he promised action against the IS group. “We have no time for terrorist-ism. Terrorism will not prosper here,” he said.
Uganda, a member of the African Union, has been involved in the fight against Islamist insurgency in neighboring Somalia. IS claimed responsibility for the attack on a humanitarian compound at Dadaab refugee camp on Nov. 11, killing at least 74 people. Kenyan authorities blamed IS for that attack, but the group has not commented on the claim.
At the time, the authorities said the two Islamist groups appeared to be coordinating attacks, something that has not been seen before.
Terrorism has long been a concern in Uganda, where the former Lord’s Resistance Army rebel leader Joseph Kony was based for years. Thousands of Ugandans have been killed in terrorist attacks in recent years and the West has urged African leaders to share intelligence and bolster security in the region.
Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia, has been the focus of international security concerns in East Africa. In its claim of responsibility for the Nov. 11 attack in the refugee camp, the group said it was attacking Kenyan military bases in Somalia and urged the international community to “stand up to the crimes of Kenya and its East African allies.”
In Kampala, police said they were increasing security at churches and other places of worship ahead of Easter Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.