Roadside bomb kills UPDF soldier in Somalia


NAIROBI, Kenya - A roadside bomb killed a Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier in Somalia, with Al-Shabaab fighters taking responsibility for the incident which left six other soldiers critically injured according to reports.

The Ugandan troops are part of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) soldiers who are responsible for security responsibilities in the Horn of Africa nation. The contingent is credited for stability in different parts of the country.

Currently, there are about 5,000 Ugandan troops in Somalia but ATMIS started a drawdown recently, which saw close to 9,000 soldiers leave. The drawdown will be completed by the end of this year when the ATMIS mandate lapses.

Major Patrick Opio Awany was killed by the explosion in the village of Ceel-Werigow, around 70 km (43 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu on Sunday, said Ibrahim Kasule Sekitto, a spokesman for the Ugandan troops.

Awany was commanding the convoy, which was heading from Mogadishu to Ceeljale in the Lower Shabelle region, Sekitto told Reuters. This is the first death affecting UPDF soldiers in as many months.

"This attack won't deter us, it will instead stiffen our resolve to continue supporting peace efforts in Somalia," he said.

Al Shabaab has been fighting for more than a decade to topple Somalia's central government and install its rule based on its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law. The militants have, however, lost significant ground in the recent past.

Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Burundi are Troops Contributing Countries to the ATMIS contingent. The government of Somalia anticipated that by the end of 2024, the militants would have lost significant territories in the country.


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