By Raymond Baguma
The army will not reveal details regarding the numbers of Ugandan troops killed in South Sudan as well as identities of the casualties in the ongoing conflict between SPLA government troops and soldiers loyal to former vice president Riek Machar.
UPDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda said that revealing the number of casualties and troop deployments could be ‘tactical suicide,’ if the information is released and ends up in the hand of opposing forces.
“We don’t reveal casualties before we inform relatives. It can be devastating to learn about the death of their people through the media. At an appropriate time, government will be brought to account and reveal those numbers,” said Lt. Col. Ankunda.
Ankunda was on Thursday addressing a press conference at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.
On Tuesday while in Angola, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni that the Ugandan army is engaged in direct combat with rebels fighting against the South Sudan government of President Salva Kiir.
Museveni while speaking at the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Heads of State summit in Angola, said that UPDF incurred casualties and deaths during a battle about 90 kilometers from Juba.
Narrating the circumstances under which UPDF was attacked; Lt. Col. Ankunda said that UPDF soldiers fell in an ambush laid by the rebels loyal to Riek Machar. However the UPDF was able to beat the ambush.
Ankunda said that Uganda could not stand by as a removal of a government using unconstitutional takes place and UPDF troops would not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way in order to ensure and prevent a likelihood of genocide in South Sudan.
He said that by Monday, the UPDF has repatriated a total over 40,000 people who include Ugandans since the fighting first broke out in South Sudan.
He said that following the approval of UPDF deployment by parliament recently, the deployment will be formalized with the ratification of a Status of Forces Agreement between Uganda and the Government of South Sudan. The agreement spells out how the UPDF troops are supposed to conduct themselves.
“We are under a bilateral mandate and troops were deployed on the invitation of Kiir who requested Museveni to deploy troops. Salva is frustrated with regional leaders who did not respond to his call.
Army not to disclose UPDF casualties in S. Sudan