A wreckage of one of the Uganda People's Defence Air Force (UPAF) of the Somalia-bound Ugandan Mi-24 attack helicopter that crashed in Mount Kenya. Photo credit/hiiraan.com

Uganda is set to scale up its contribution to the fight against Al Shabaab by sending another batch of combat helicopters to Somalia.

In 2012, the Uganda government lost three of the four Russian-made Mi24 combat helicopters that were enroute to Somalia to provide air cover for the same mission. Each of the four helicopters that crushed around Mount Kenya was carrying seven soldiers.

The multiple crushes in Kenya prompted a probe led by Senior Presidential Advisor on Defence General Salim Saleh that resulted in the suspension of then Airforce Commander Lt Gen Jim Owoyesigire and his Chief of Staff Brig Moses Rwakitarate.

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By press time it was not possible to establish how many helicopters were set to be deployed this time round.

But while addressing the media in the Kenyan capital Nairobi last Friday, the head of the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia (Amisom) Francisco Caetano Jose Madeira, said Kenya and Ethiopia would join Uganda to contribute helicopters to African Union forces to aid it in fighting the Somali-based al-Shabaab militants.

Madeira also disclosed that his operations against the al-Shabaab militants have also been hit by European Union funding cuts, and that the AU is now seeking aid from Gulf countries.

“Officials had undertaken a trip to the Gulf countries to sensitize those countries on the need to support the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM],” Madeira said.

Madeira’s remarks came as Turkey President was in Somalia where he opened a new embassy and said his country plans to open a military training center in the capital, Mogadishu.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan was speaking after an earlier meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta where the Turkish leader said Ankara would help in stabilizing Somalia.


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