The Somali al-Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants ambushed Somali government troops and the African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) killing, 12 UPDF soldiers, the UPDF Spokesperson Richard Karemire has confirmed.
“From the battlefield, it is now confirmed that the UPDF lost 12 gallant soldiers with 7 sustaining injuries,” Karemire said, adding that both the dead and injured soldiers have been evacuated to Mogadishu Level II Hospital ‘for further management and treatment’.
Other sources indicate that 24 people, including the UPDF soldiers were killed on Sunday during the fighting, but the Islamist militants put the death toll higher at 39.
Meanwhile, according to Karemire, the Al Shabaab ambushed the soldiers yesterday at Goryowein along Bulumater and Beladamin area of the Lower Shabelle region, about 140 km (85 miles) southwest of Mogadishu.
Karemire said the UPDF Contingent Commander Brig. Kayanja Muhanga is on the ground in the same place to conduct counter operations. Uganda last sent a new UPDF contingent this month.
The UPDF spokesman says a board of inquiry is being constituted to establish the circumstances leading to the fateful incident.
“The same board of inquiry will help in expediting the compensation process by the African Union in respect of the deceased who gave their lives in defence of mother Africa,” Karemire said in an update.
The Uganda army is yet to release the names of the dead UPDF soldiers but Karemire said the force’s office of Chief of Personnel and Administration (CPA) is contacting relatives of the deceased and the injured to inform them of the developments. He said arrangements are being made to transport the deceased to their ancestral homes for burial, though he didn’t specify the exact date this would take place.
In their brutal attacks, the al Shabaab terrorists want to force out the peacekeepers, oust the Western-backed government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam in Somalia.
In June, the Islamist militant group that controls parts of Somalia, stormed an army base, killing up to 70 people and wounding dozens more.
Somalia remains one of the most fragile states in the world. It is vulnerable to terrorism and criminal entities, activities and enterprises as well as crippling food insecurity and displaced persons.
The AMISOM and United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia update done in April indicates that Uganda is the largest contributor of the 22,126 uniformed personnel in Somalia, with 6,223 men and officers.
Uganda is followed by Burundi (5,432 ); Ethiopia (4,395); Kenya (3,664 ); Djibouti (1000) and Sierra Leone (850).