Somalia: AU forces kill several terrorists behind UPDF base attack
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Several Al-Shabaab militants believed to be behind the attack at an Uganda People's Defense Forces [UPDF] base have been killed, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] has said, over 72 hours after the group overran the base leaving several soldiers dead.
The peacekeepers pursued the militants and eliminated a number of them who were fleeing from the scene, retrieving multiple weapons stolen from the base, ATMIS further said. The peacekeepers did not reveal the number of militants who were killed but maintained it is committed to helping in the stabilization process of Somalia.
"ATMIS and SNA Force troops have successfully pursued the fleeing Al-Shabaab terrorists involved in the ATMIS FOB attack in Buulo Mareer. A substantial number of the terrorists have been eliminated. The joint force has also retrieved multiple weapons looted from the FOB," read the statement.
"ATMIS remains committed to fighting terrorism and will continue working closely with the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Member States, and international partners to secure Somalia," the peacekeepers added.
Multiple sources have confirmed that the UPDF contingent is yet to return to Bulo Marer FOB, with some reports indicating that even as late as Sunday, Al-Shabaab was in control. Al-Shabaab's video purportedly from the base on Sunday showed some dead bodies inside and at the entrance of the base.
So far, no official number of casualties has been released but UPDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Felix Kulaigye confirmed to VOA Somali that a company of 221 soldiers was stationed at the base. Al-Shabaab claimed that over 137 soldiers were killed.
Somali sources told VOA that on the day of the attack, May 26, between 100 to 120 soldiers made it to another Ugandan military base in Golweyn village, about seven kilometers east of Bulo Marer. About a dozen soldiers reportedly arrived in Golweyn on May 27, with UPDF now confirming that a number of them were taken hostage by Al-Shabaab.
Again Somali sources believe at least 3 soldiers may have been captured. Mahad Karate, the Al-Shabaab commander in charge of taxation and finance, claimed over 200 soldiers were killed but Kulaigye says Al-Shabaab is exaggerating the numbers.
“It gives us more determination to deal with this enemy of peace in Somalia,” he told the Voice of America. “They will pay for that attack. No one attacks UPDF and goes scot-free.”
President Yoweri Museveni criticized the soldiers for "panicking" despite having sophisticated weapons to handle the group by responding strongly. The Ugandan leader was yet again quoted accusing top commanders of deploying their "relatives and cooks" to fight Al-Shabaab for higher pay while insisting that Al-Shabaab "must regret their actions".