The African Union, European Union and Office the Prime Minister of Somalia have issued statements condemning Tuesday’s attacks on AMISOM troops in Somalia but the Uganda government has remained loudly silent about the deadly killings.
Foreign news agencies are reporting that up to fifty Ugandan soldiers may have died and fifty others unaccounted for after the Tuesday incident in which al-Shabaab militants overran a military camp in southern Somali.
The EU, AU and Somalia government have sent condolences to the people of Uganda for the losses suffered during the Tuesday morning attack at Janale military camp in Somalia.
Efforts to seek a comment from the UPDF and Ministry of Defence were futile. Army Spokesperson, Col Paddy Ankunda was reportedly in Nairobi while his deputy Maj Henry Obbo could not be reached on phone.
Uganda Media Centre and State House have not issued any statements on the incident though it has been confirmed that Janale military camp located the Lower Shabelle region was manned by Ugandan troops with about 110 UPDF soldiers.
al-Shabaab militants claimed on Tuesday that they had killed 70 soldiers, fifty of them by gunfire while twenty drowned in a river while trying to flee.
Prime Minister of Somalia, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke in a short statement condemned attack describing it as barbaric. Sharmarke said the attack was by those who oppose peace and stability of Somalia.
The EU statement said the attack appeared to be a response to the successful offensive that AMISOM troops and the Somali national army have been undertaking against al-Shabaab in central and southern Somalia.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, strongly condemned the attack saying “I send my deepest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in today’s attack as well as to the people and the governments of Uganda and Somalia,” adding “These courageous peacekeepers sacrificed their lives in the ongoing efforts to bring lasting peace and security to Somalia.”
The African Union statement said given the complex nature of the attack, AMISOM was still verifying the number of casualties and extent of the damage. Reports quoting unnamed Western diplomats say an assessment by AMISOM on Wednesday morning found that 50 soldiers had been killed and fifty others missing following the attack.
A source in Somalia says the evacuation process was taking rather longer because the al-Shabaab had blown up the bridge to the base. The source said the causality on the Ugandan contingent was huge.
There are reports that Chief Of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala who was in Kenya on the day of the attack has flown to Mogadishu. al-Shabaab has claimed the attack was revenge for the killing of seven civilians by Ugandan troops at a wedding in the town of Merka in July.
Ugandan army troops allegedly killed six men at a wedding on July 31, 2015, in the Somali port town of Merka. The soldiers reportedly separated the men from the women and shot the six adult men – four brothers, their father, and an uncle.
Three AMISOM personnel have since been indicted for the wedding killings and are awaiting to be arraigned before a military judicial process. A board of inquiry composed of military, civilian and police officers without representation from the Ugandan contingent was also instituted to begin the trial.