KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan police said on Tuesday they are investigating whether the killing of a prosecutor in Kampala was carried out by Somalia's Islamic extremist group al-Shabab.
Joan Kagezi, a prosecutor in the ongoing trial of about a dozen men facing terror charges, appears to have been the victim of a targeted assassination, Patrick Onyango, a police spokesman in the Ugandan capital, said Tuesday.
There are many possible suspects, including al-Shabab, but it is too soon to make any arrests, he said.
"We cannot rule out al-Shabab ... because that's the major case that she was handling," he said, referring to the trial in Uganda of suspects accused of being involved in the July 2010 bombings here in which more than 70 people were killed while watching a soccer World Cup final on TV.
The U.S. Embassy in Uganda condemned the prosecutor's killing in a statement Tuesday that described Kagezi as a "heroine in the forefront of the fight against crime and terrorism."
"The United States reiterates its support for the Ugandan government's efforts to combat international terrorism, in which Joan Kagezi played a leading role," the statement said. "We stand in solidarity with Ugandans and the Ugandan government as they seek to bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime."
Onyango said Kagezi was shot twice by gunmen late Monday after she left her car — in which she was traveling with two of her children on the way home from work — to buy groceries in a Kampala suburb. After shooting her twice in the head and neck, the gunmen fled on a motorcycle during heavy vehicular traffic, he said, citing eyewitness accounts.
The killing has shocked Uganda amid repeated warnings that al-Shabab is plotting fresh attacks in Uganda.
The latest warning, issued last week by the U.S. Embassy, said there was a terrorist threat against locations in Kampala where foreigners often congregate.
Uganda has contributed troops toward an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the reason al-Shabab cited for carrying out the 2010 attacks.