Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | President Yoweri Museveni has said the Uganda People’s Defence Forces- UPDF base in Somalia was attacked by more than 800 Al-Shabaab militants.
Museveni, who is also the Commander-in-chief also confirmed that UPDF soldiers were killed but he did not give numbers of the dead nor the injured.
“Condolences to the country and the families of those who died. This unfortunate incident should be used to remind all those concerned, that operations in Somalia and other theatres, are combat missions and not welfare missions where you can access UN allowances,” Museveni said in a statement issued on his Twitter page.
Al-Shabaab issued a statement on Friday claiming that it had successfully raided a UPDF base in the Lower Shebeele region and killed at least 137 soldiers and captured others.
However, UPDF and African Transition Mission in Somalia -ATMIS did not give numbers of the killed or injured soldiers apart from confirming the attacks. Museveni has said some soldiers did not perform as expected and panicked which disorganized them and the Al-Shabaab took advantage to overrun the base and destroy some weapons.
“The panic, it seems, was totally unnecessary because, in fact, both the anti-tank ditch and our soldiers had destroyed the 3 vehicles of explosives outside the FOB. The suicide bombers or whatever were forced to blow themselves up before they gained entry into the base,” Museveni said.
Museveni has wondered why the soldiers panicked yet UAVs were watching the whole scenario from up in the sky and directing fire. He said the CDF has set up a Board of Inquiry (BOI) and the full facts will come out, including the details of the casualties.
“Many of the soldiers withdrew to the next FOB, nine kilometers away. The terrorists were many, about 800 or so according to the UAVs. Hence, it was a missed opportunity, to annihilate them. The operations are continuing and they will regret their actions,” he said.
Museveni said it is criminal for anybody involved, to send into such a theatre soldiers who are either not suited for that mission or not properly prepared for it. He promised to give details after the board of inquiry has finished its work.
UPDF has already sent its land forces commander, Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga to Somalia to ascertain the situation on the ground. So far, UPDF, Museveni, and ATMIS have left the world to believe Al-Shabaab numbers since they have not given any figures in their communication.