The commander of the Land Forces, Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga has been selected to lead a team to investigate the Friday morning attack on a UPDF in Somalia, the army has said.
In a statement released on Saturday morning, the army spokesperson, Brig Felix Kulayigye confirmed the attack and said a team has been dispatched to investigate the incident.
“A team of UPDF under the leadership of the commander Land Forces, Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga has been dispatched to Somalia to ascertain the circumstances under which the attack happened and the way forward,” Brig Kulayigye said.
Lt Gen Muhanga, a battle-hardened officer of the UPDF has previously served as commander of the Ugandan troops in Somalia as he helped fight Al Shabaab insurgents.
By leading the team to investigate the deadly attack, Gen Muhanga will use his experience and expertise to ascertain the circumstances under which the incident happened.
The UPDF spokesperson on Saturday said the attack will not deter the Ugandan army’s commitment to the African Union Transmission Mission in Somalia’s efforts to pacify the Horn of Africa country.
The Friday early morning attack targeted a UPDF forward operating base in Bulo Marer, 120 kilometres (75 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab claimed in a statement that it carried out suicide bomb attacks and killed 137 Ugandan soldiers whereas others were taken as prisoners of war.
They also set several vehicles and equipment on fire.
However, these claims have not been independently verified but on several occasions, the group has exaggerated the extent of their operations.
The UPDF and ATMIS have on the other side remained tightlipped on the number of casualties from the deadly attack.
The Ugandan army however said all official communications regarding the attack and other operations of the forces in Somalia remain ATMIS mandate.
Previously in 2015, Al Shabaab insurgents have attacked a UPDF base in Janaale killing 19 soldiers.
The same military base was attacked by Al Shabaab in 2018 when about 100 militants attacked the base with gunfire.
At least 17 Ugandan soldiers were killed in the attack
Early last year, the mandate of the troops changed to a transitional peacekeeping force of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia(ATMIS) working to ensure Somalia is ushered into permanent peace.
ATMIS’s goal therefore is to hand over security responsibilities to Somalia’s army and police by 2024.
To this, earlier this month , several Somalia Special Forces commandos completed training in Uganda.
Despite the gains by the African Union troops, the Al Shabaab militants have continued to strike with lethal force against civilian and military targets ,especially in the Lower Shabelle region where Friday’s attack happened.
The ATMIS troops are expected to leave Somalia next year.