Saturday, July 31, 2010
UPDF kill dozens of Somali fighters
Amisom spokesperson Maj. Ba-Hoku Barigye yesterday said the force had killed scores of al Shabaab fighters in fresh fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu. UPDF peacekeepers on Wednesday battled and killed dozens of the Islamist group al Shabaab when they attacked African Union peacekeepers’ positions at Ulba and Juba hotels in Mogadishu, Maj. Barigye told Daily Monitor by telephone.
“We are not able to establish the number of those killed because we do not do charge [count the dead]. But they were repulsed with heavy casualties,” he said.
Different sources gave different figures of the number of al Shabaab that could have been put out of action by the UPDF fire.
While one source said 18 al Shabaab fighters were killed, others told Daily Monitor the whole group of between 50 to 60 attackers was wiped at in heavy UPDF shelling.
Maj. Barigye said another Islamist Hizbul Islam led by hardliner cleric, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, which has declared war on Amisom was not a new force because it has always worked with the al Shabaab.
“In terms of operations and ideology, they are the same as the al Shabaab,” he said.
He also dismissed Hizbul Islam claims that they attacked Amisom men in Hodon District in south Mogadishu on Tuesday, saying the peacekeepers have no positions in that district.
“Mogadishu is not on fire. We are in charge and everything is in order,” he said.
The al Shabaab, seeking to topple President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s Transitional Federal Government, has declared war on the peacekeepers and claimed responsibility for the July 11 bomb attacks in Kampala that left over 76 people dead.
The group’s leadership said the attack was to punish Kampala for UPDF’s involvement in Mogadishu. President Museveni appealed, during the just concluded AU summit, for the Amisom mandate in Somalia to be changed to allow Ugandan and Burundian soldiers there to attack the al Shabaab but the UN blocked the appeal.
The UN Secretary General’s envoy to Somalia, Mr Augustine Mahiga, advised the presidents that the international law is presently on their side to tackle al Shabaab.
Mr Museveni, however, got the goodwill of four other unnamed countries – three in West Africa and another in the southern part of the continent – to commit more troops.
Djibouti and Guinea are said to be two of the four countries. With Uganda committing 2, 000 additional soldiers to Somalia, the number of Amisom troops will increase to 7,000.
Leaders of the Inter-governmental Authority on Development recently agreed to send 20,000 more troops to the war-torn region.