Museveni contradicts UPDF account of Somalia casualties

GYAGENDA KABUUBI

President Yoweri Museveni has added to the confusion relating to the exact number of UPDF soldiers that died in Sunday’s clashes with the Al-Shabaab militants in Lower Shabelle region of Somalia.

Museveni tweeted on Tuesday morning giving a contradictory account of the Sunday’s deadly attacks that according to International media outlets left about 46 Ugandan soldiers dead.

Museveni on Twitter said, eight UPDF combatants died. Army spokesman Brig Richard Karemire had put the number of casualties at four.

“On Easter Sunday our soldiers in Somalia heroically gave serious blows to Al-Shabaab, killing 36 of them and destroying six vehicles full of explosives. This was because they were alert,” Museveni’s tweet reads.

“Unfortunately, two vehicles of the enemy entered one of the three sites attacked. One vehicle was detonated and killed eight of our soldiers. May their souls rest in eternal peace. I extend condolences to their families,” the president further tweeted.

This followed clashes between UPDF soldiers under the African Union peace keeping force in Somalia (AMISOM) with the Al-Shabaab who attacked the AMISOM Forward Operating Bases at Quoroyole, Buulo Mareer and Golwen in Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia.

“Eight of their vehicles that included two Vehicle Born Improvised Explosives were destroyed,” Karemire said in a statement on Sunday.

Karemire also said that the UPDF had captured a cache of military equipment that included, 4 PK Rifles, 2 Rocket Propelled Guns, 2 Recoiless Guns,1 Walkie Talkie and 18 Sub Machine Gun Rifles.

However, it emerged that the number of the Ugandan casualties was higher than what the UPDF was reporting, putting the number at 46.

The Guardian quoted Somali officials including Col Abdi Nur Hash who said that the Al-Shabaab militants detonated a suicide car bomb at the gate of the Ugandan army base in Bulamarer before storming into the complex and left 46 Ugandan soldiers dead.

A second suicide car bomb targeted a convoy of Ugandan army reinforcements coming from a nearby base.

But Karemire in various media interviews said the reports were basedon the Al-Shabaab propaganda.