Uganda has dispatched more soldiers to Somalia following a Friday dawn attack on its army base by al-Shabaab militants.
Ugandan soldiers deployed under the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) came under attack yesterday at about 0500hrs in the Lower Shabelle region. The extent and severity of the attack remain unknown but al-Shabaab made several posts on Telegram showing captured Ugandan soldiers and a runover base in Buulu Mareer.
In a statement released today Saturday by ministry of Defense spokesperson Brig Felix Kulaigye, the latest deployment is under the leadership of Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga, the commander of Land Forces.
The militants reportedly detonated four to six explosions, including improvised bombs in vehicles driven by suicide bombers, three sources, including a local official and a security commander requesting anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media, told VOA Somali.
According to the sources, the militants penetrated perimeters of the base after the explosions, which were followed by a fierce firefight. The militants were also seen inside the town. The base is just outside town.
The situation of a second base manned by Somali forces not far from the AU base that al-Shabaab claims to have attacked is unclear.
Al-Shabaab sent a message via Telegram early Friday claiming they were “overrunning” the base. The Africa Union military command and the Somali government have not yet commented on the attack.
This latest attack comes as the Somali government prepares the second phase of military operations against al-Shabaab. The first phase, launched in August, drove al-Shabaab from vast territories in central Somalia.
The Somali government said it will raise enough forces to take over security responsibilities from the AU peacekeepers by Dec 2024.