Uganda: Local Soldiers Wounded in Somalia


Kampala

THREE Ugandan peacekeepers were injured by mortar shells in Mogadishu yesterday evening as they guarded the Somali capital's seaport, the spokesman for the African Union (AU) force said.

"Our position at the seaport was attacked by several mortars at 6:00pm," Capt. Paddy Ankunda told The New Vision last night.


"Three of our soldiers and a Somali policeman were wounded and are receiving treatment at our hospital.

"One is reportedly seriously injured. "We are waiting for a final report from the doctors to decide whether they will be evacuated," Ankunda said.

The Ugandans did not return fire when they came under attack, and the Ugandan contingent at the seaport will not be withdrawn, Ankunda stressed.

"We have always maintained at least 200 soldiers at the port. They will stay there."

Asked who was responsible for the attack, Ankunda said: "We have no idea yet. We are trying to investigate."

But according to the French press agency AFP, Islamist militias claimed responsibility for the attack on their web- site. "The incident is unfortunate.

It means we have to be more vigilant," the UPDF spokesman, Maj. Felix Kulayigye, commented.

Asked if Uganda would pull out of Somalia, he said: "We have a mission and the mission has not yet been completed. The Burundian contingent is also going to be deployed soon. The force commander is currently in Bujumbura over the issue."

The Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, confirmed that Uganda would maintain its force in Mogadishu.

"We will stay the course. We will wait for either the AU to complete its deployment or the UN to take over in six months."

Aronda also pointed at the ineffectiveness of the transitional government. "By now, they should have built their military force and patrol the city to deny a hide-out for the negative forces. But since they are not there, we will take extra precautions."

Two more policemen and four civilians died yesterday in two roadside bombs, one in the southern Mogadishu suburb of Kuliyada and another one near the presidential palace, according to AFP.

Some 1,600 Ugandan troops are deployed in Mogadishu as the vanguard of a planned 8,000-strong African Union force to support the fragile Somali interim government.

Five of them have been killed by Iraq-style roadside bombs and mortar blasts since they began duty in March, but direct attacks on their positions had been relatively rare.


SOURCE: New Vision, October 24, 2007

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