Mogadishu, Somalia | THE INDEPENDENT & AFP | Uganda has confirmed that 12 of her solidiers, part of the African Union (AU) troops in Somalia, were killed in an ambush by Shabaab militants on Sunday.
“From the battlefield, it is now confirmed that UPDF lost 12 gallant soldiers with 7 sustaining injuries,” said Brig. Richard Karemire, the Ministry of Defence and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson in a statement.
“The dead and those injured have been evacuated to Mogadishu Level II hospital for further management and treatment.”
The African Union troops were ambushed in the village of Golweyn some 120 kilometres (74 miles) south of Mogadishu as they escorted supplies along the road that connects Mogadishu to Lower Shebelle.
Shabaab militants in Somalia on Sunday claimed they had killed up to 39 African Union troops in the ambush in the country’s south.
The claim by the Al-Qaeda linked insurgents was made by the group’s spokesman on an affiliated radio station.
Local residents did confirm to AFP that fighting had taken place Sunday in the Lower Shebelle region, a hotly contested area where Shabaab’s spokesman said they had staged their ambush.
“The mujahedeen fighters stood over the dead bodies of 39 soldiers, among them senior commanders”, Abdiaziz Abu Muzab told Andalus radio.
— AMISOM (@amisomsomalia) July 31, 2017
AMISOM battling Shabaab
The African Union Mission In Somalia (AMISOM) has a 22,000 strong force in the country dedicated to fighting Shabaab and backing up the internationally backed government in the capital Mogadishu.
“We salute the gallant officers and men who have made sacrifices to ensure that peace is restored in Somalia. Such incidents that require at times our soldiers to pay the ultimate price will not deter our resolve to accomplish the mission,” UPDF said .
The statement revealed that a board of inquiry is being constituted to establish the circumstances leading to thei 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,” the statement said.
— Brig RichardKaremire (@UPDFspokespersn) July 31, 2017
This SAD event hopefully sobers AMISOM discussion next week in the UNSC on the new AMISOM mandate.
— Adonia Ayebare (@adoniaayebare) July 30, 2017
“Fighting broke out and continued for more than one hour”, said Ali Osman, a witness to the battle.
The African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia has commended the courage and bravery of AMISOM troops, who were targeted in the IED attack .
“The African Union Mission appreciates and honours the heroes whose lives have been lost while pursuing peace and stability in Somalia. I extend my deepest condolences to the families of our fallen soldiers, the people and government of Uganda,” The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the SRCC Ambassador Francisco Madeira stated.
“Your sacrifice and commitment to the cause for peace in Somalia is recognised and most appreciated by our continental Organization and by every member state of the African Union and will never be in vain,” he added.
In April, a minibus travelling through Golweyn hit a landmine, killing at least 14 people.
That attack was also blamed on Shabaab, which has fought successive governments in Mogadishu and also carried out attacks in Kenya and Uganda.