World Cup fun ... then bomb carnage in Uganda
A Northern Ireland woman has spoken for the first time about being caught up in the Uganda bomb massacre.
Andrea O’Neill (21) from Ballymena was just metres away when the device ripped through a rugby club in the Ugandan capital Kampala, killing 49 people who had been watching the FIFA World Cup final on television.
Ms O’Neill, who had been in the African country with a voluntary Christian organisation, said survived the explosion simply because a steward at the Kyadondo Rugby Club has asked her and a few colleagues to move seats.
“We did just that, and it was a move that saved our lives,” said Andrea.
“There must have been 1,000 people there and we sat outside to watch the game on the big screen.
“I had bought a vuvuzela horn and had it pressed to my ear when the bomb went off.”
Andrea, a member of the First Ballymena Presbyterian Church who had accompanied Fields of Life Christian colleagues to Kampala, told the Ballymena Guardian she thought the explosion was a firework at first, but then saw people running in panic.
“I saw a really white flash and chairs were sent flying,” she revealed.
“We started to run too, although we had no idea where exactly we were running to — or if we were heading into the path of another bomb.”
Student Andrea, who arrived back in Ballymena last weekend, eventually made it across to a car park.
A short time later she passed the scene of the other killer bomb that night, at the city’s Ethiopian Village Restaurant.
A further 27 people died in that explosion.
“The restaurant was only a few minutes from where we were staying,” said Andrea, who added that at no time did her group contemplate pulling out of Uganda.
“We were there to do a job. We were in Uganda for a purpose and there was no way we would let what happened disrupt our plans,” she said.
The Fields of Life group teaches art, music, religious education and sports to underprivileged children in east Africa.
Three Kenyans have been charged with the murders of the 76 people who died that night.
Hussein Hassan Agad (27), Mohamed Adan Abdow (25) and Idris Magondu (42) were also charged with terrorism and 10 counts of attempted murder.
They have yet to enter pleas and will remain in custody until their next court appearance on August 27.
Al-Shabab, a Somali Islamist group, said that it carried out the attacks.