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Uganda sends land forces chief to Somalia after deadly attack on troops

The Uganda military has sent a team led by the Chief of Land Forces, Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga, to Mogadishu, Somalia, to ascertain the circumstances under which the country’s troops were attacked on a dawn raid on Friday.

The May 26 attack happened at Buulo Mareer, a base in Lower Shabelle, killing at least 50 soldiers, with more feared dead.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Defence and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson Brig-Gen Felix Kulayigye said the team will “devise the way forward.” He did not give further details but added that the attack “will not deter our commitment to Atmis mandate of ensuring African peace and stability.”

The Somali militant group Al Shabaab overran Buulo Mareer Forward Operating Base (FOB) in coordinated attacks using car-laden explosives and gunfire and carried out a massacre of Ugandan troops that sent shockwaves in Kampala.

In the 15 years since it deployed to Somalia, UPDF has not suffered such a heavy casualty, which sources said includes senior commanders.

The Al Shabaab took prisoner several soldiers whose fate and location remain unknown, charged a large cache of weapons and ammunition, and set ablaze several African Union labelled tanks and infantry fighting vehicles within the base, located 120 kilometres southwest of Mogadishu.

The FOB is manned by troops from UPDF’s Uganda Battle Group (Ugabag) 38, which deployed in Somalia last month to start its tour of duty under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis).

Lt-Gen Muhanga, a veteran of the many operations, including Somali combat fields battling the Al Shabaab, currently holds the third highest ranking office in Uganda’s military, and the 5,000 UPDF troops deployed in Somalia fall under his command.

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