Col Bantariza eulogises, UPDF death toll put at 21

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Col Shaban Bantariza

Retired Colonel of the Uganda People’s Defence Force [UPDF], Shaban Bantariza, has expressed his sorrow at the killing of Ugandan soldiers in Somalia.

“Gallant UPDF, alive or fallen, where would Uganda and the region be without your sacrifices?” eulogised Bantariza, the Deputy Government Spokesperson.

He added: “Fare Thee Well our Gallant and Brave Section!”

The bodies of the fallen soldiers will be brought home today, Wednesday afternoon.

Lt Colonel Deo Akiiki, the deputy UPDF spokesperson, said in a statement that the plane carrying “the caskets of the deceased” will touch down at Entebbe Airforce base at 1:30pm.

Victoria University

Lt. General Wilson Mbadi, the deputy Chief of Defence Forces will head the military delegation to receive the remains.

The names of those killed and injured are yet to be released.

21 not 12 killed?

UPDF said 12 soldiers died on Sunday morning when militant al Shabaab fighters ambushed African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troops.

The incident took place at Gorowen town between Bulumaler and Beladamini in Lower Shabelle region, about 140kms South West of Mogadishu.

Brigadier Richard Karemire said another seven soldiers were wounded during the fight.

Brigadier Karemire said told Uganda Radio Network he was quoting the UPDF AMISOM Contingent commander, Brig Kayanja Muhanga.

A military source who preferred to remain unnamed told URN that the UPDF lost 21 soldiers in action and nine others are seriously injured.

Another 25 soldiers returned to the UPDF base alive while two are still missing, according to the source.

The Somali militants said they had killed over 39 Amisom soldiers.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters: “We have in hand 39 dead bodies of AU soldiers including their commander.”

Army once more hides actual number of killed soldiers?

In 2015, Museveni came under pressure from relatives and friends of Ugandan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to inform the country how many of their relatives were killed.

Al-Qaeda-linked Somali group Al Shabaab attacked an AMISOM compound at Janaale, in Lower Shabelle Region in Somalia housing at least 150 Ugandan troops leaving many dead and several wounded.

AMISOM headquarters in Mogadishu, the Somali capital gave the number of dead as being about 10 while reports said about 100 soldiers, mostly Ugandans had been killed.

Museveni, while visiting Tokyo Japan, told Associated Press [AP] that 19 soldiers were killed and six were missing following the September 1 attack.

The president’s figure varied significantly from the number of bodies [12] that were confirmed by then army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda.

The militant group, on the other hand, said it had killed 50 Ugandan soldiers.

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