AU mission silent on Ugandan soldiers killed by Al-Shabaab in Somalia raid

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - Neither the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] nor the Uganda People's Defense Forces [UPDF] have confirmed casualties on Ugandan troops in Somalia, following the dawn raid by Al-Shabaab militants in southern Mogadishu on Friday, in what could trigger more questions than answers.

Although both parties were quick to confirm the tragedy, none was clear about casualties, even as Al-Shabaab claimed to have killed over 137 peacemakers in the country. This is the most devastating attack on ATMIS soldiers in six years, security experts said.

The group was quick to public images of a dismembered Bulo Marer Forward Operating Bases [FOB] manned by UPDF soldiers with army tanks and other military infrastructure completely destroyed. Some photos showed purported members of Al-Shabaab frog marching Ugandan troops who survived to wait for cars.

In a statement released several hours after the raid, ATMIS said the Al-Shabaab attacked the base using "Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices [VBIEDs] and suicide bombers". The attack took place at 5 am local time, the mission added.

Intensive fighting between UPDF soldiers and Al-Shabaab ensued, they said, adding that "reinforcements from ATMIS’ Aviation Unit and allies managed to destroy weapons in possession of the withdrawing Al-Shabaab militants". Locals had reported drone strikes confirming aerial support.

"ATMIS would like to assure the public and all other entities in the country that everything is being done to bring the situation under control," read the statement without denying or opposing the figures of casualties released by Al-Shabaab.

"The mission remains committed to its fight against terrorism and will continue working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia, the Federal Member States, and other international partners in securing Somalia against Al-Shabaab and other armed groups."

More often than not, military teams do not discuss casualties incurred openly from their end but whenever the magnitude of the attack is high, they do release figures albeit distorted. In 2016, the militants raided Kenya Defence Forces [KDF] Forward Operating Base in El-Adde Somalia, but the exact figures of casualties were not revealed, with insiders claiming over 200 soldiers were killed.

GAROWE ONLINE

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