Kampala- The Ministry of Defense has described as heroes Ugandan peacekeepers who were killed during a terrorist attack in Somalia on Christmas Day.
The bodies of the slain officers of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) were due to arrive home at 4pm on Saturday evening.
“Our gallant fighters that now regrettably lie before us in silence were part of a very strong team that heroically denied the al-Shabaab access to their intended final target, of gaining access to critical infrastructure at the base,” Maj Gen David Muhoozi, the UPDF Land Forces Commander, remarked.
The army said five militants were eliminated “on the spot as three were captured alive”. “Unfortunately three of our comrades, including a Lieutenant Colonel, lost their lives in the process,” Maj Gen Muhoozi added.
A statement by the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) said three peacekeepers were killed when al-Shabaab militants infiltrated the Halane Africa Union base camp in Mogadishu at lunch time on Christmas Day.
Some of the terrorists were disguised in Somali National Army uniforms, the statement explained.
A distraught daughter of the Lieutenant Colonel killed in the attack posted on social media site facebook, stated how the family was inconsolable.
“Dear friends, it is unbelievably sad to communicate to you the death of my sweet dad Lt Col Dr Christopher Kaija. He died during the al-Shabaab attack on Somalia,” Ms Ruth Abesiga, who works with National Water and Sewerage Cooperation, posted.
Ms Abesiga later told Sunday Monitor: “I don’t know how other people perceive soldiers to be, well my dad was exceptional. He loved his job and treated his patients with lots of love and respect. For me I would say Dr Kaija was a hero in the sense that he did his best to serve his country diligently.”
Maj Gen Muhoozi, who was expected to represent the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, in receiving the remains of the dead at Entebbe Airport, said: “There is no greater sacrifice than that of one’s own life for a just cause, like the fallen Amisom comrades made.”
The statement said “Amisom has regained control of the Halane base camp and restored normalcy. All African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) personnel in the base camp are safe and secure.”
The Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson for Somalia and head of Amisom, Mr Maman S. Sidikou applauded “the quick response and bravery of the troops in quelling this reprehensible attack.”
Ambassador Sidikou emphasised that, “the goal to rid Somalia of terrorists will continue to be pursued relentlessly.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations has condemned the attack on Amisom and sent condolences to the families of the bereaved.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor