Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan army spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire has said reports citing possible attacks on Kampala by the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab are not true. Al-Shabaab got back in the news with Sunday’s attack which African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said they repulsed, lost eight peace keepers but killed 36 militants.
“The public is assured that there is no any possible attack on Kampala. We as UPDF assure the public that Kampala is safe and we shall continue to work with other security agencies to ensure that Kampala and Uganda at large are safe and secure,” said Brig Karimire a day after the country lost soldiers after an Al-Shabaab attack on African Union military camp outside Mogadishu on Sunday.
Karimire also dismissed Al-Shabaab claims that UPDF had lost up to 50 soldiers in the attack. “We also stand by the figures earlier released that four soldiers were lost with six injured,” Brig Karimire said in the first statement hours after the attack.
Local sources said a massive blast was heard in the Bulomarer district, around 150 kilometres (93 miles) south of Mogadishu, and fighting broke out after dozens of heavily armed Shabaab militants stormed the base.
“The heavy blast struck the base before fighting broke out. We are hearing the militants used a minibus loaded with explosives to make their way in before the heavily armed confrontation started at the camp,” said local security official Ibrahim Abdilahi.
“There was heavy fighting and we could see smoke rising above the military base,” said witness Mohamed Sharif.
Ugandan army spokesman Brigadier Karemire said soon after that up to 30 Shabaab militants had been killed, while the Islamists claimed in a statement to have killed 59 Ugandan soldiers.
The Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab was pushed out of the Somali capital in 2011 — and subsequently other towns and cities — by soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
But the Islamists still hold sway in large parts of the countryside and launch regular gun and bomb attacks on government, military and civilian targets in Mogadishu and ambushes on military convoys and outposts.
East African leaders contributing to the 22,000-strong AMISOM force last month called for the United Nations to reconsider plans to withdraw troops by December 2020, saying the timeline was unrealistic and could lead to a reversal of gains.