By Taddeo Bwambale
Three Ugandan AMISOM peacekeepers are among the victims of Saturday’s attack on the Somali Parliament by al-Shabaab.
Four Somali soldiers and a Police officer were also killed during the attack in which 13 militants were gunned down by a joint force of combined force of Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM.
An explosives-laden car was detonated near the main entrance to the parliament building in Mogadishu around 11:30am on Makka Al-Mukaramma Street while the House was in session.
Heavily armed al-Shabaab fighters entered the parliament building where they engaged in a fierce fight with a joint force comprising Somali security forces and AMISOM troops. All the MPs were safely evacuated from the building, including one who was injured and admitted to AMISOM level II hospital.
Maj. Deo Akiiki, the Uganda contingent’s spokesperson, said his three fallen colleagues were part of a quick reaction force that responded to the attack. They army declined to name the deceased awaiting formal communication with the bereaved.
Four other Ugandan peace keepers were among troops who sustained injuries during the attack, Akiiki disclosed, but said they were on treatment and in stable condition.
“All the four injured soldiers are in a stable condition at our level II hospitals. Our doctors have done a great job and neither of them has been referred to Nairobi or South Africa so far,” Akiiki told New Vision in a phone interview.
Narrating how the al-Shabaab fighters were defeated during the attack, Akiiki said 11 fighters were killed by the joint force while two blew themselves up.
He revealed that efforts were underway to establish the number of civilians injured during the attack, including people who work around the Parliament building.
“Such attacks are aimed at mere publicity and to divert the world from the fact that Alshabaab has been largely defeated in Somalia. Our resolve to rid Somalia of these terrorists will not be cowed by these cowardly acts,” Akiiki vowed.
Yesterday, the commander of the Special Forces Command (SFC), Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, hailed the role of the elite army unit in defeating al-Shabaab on Saturday.
He told New Vision that the SFCFC played a key role in thwarting the attack, alongside the SNA, the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA)
“Our boys who were part of the combined force of SNA, NISA and AMISOM defeated the attack. We sustained a few casualties but killed all the 13 terrorists in fierce fighting,” said Muhoozi who has on several occasions been the combat in Somalia alongside other peacekeepers.
“They planned to take the Members of Parliament hostage and a Westgate-style siege. Our boys responded immediately and did a great job,” Muhoozi added.
African Union troops (who include Ugandan troops) arrive in an armoured vehicle during an attack on the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, on Saturday. PHOTO/AFP
A Somali army soldier runs for cover during an attack on the Somali parliament in Mogadishu. PHOTO/AFP
The acting President of Somalia, and Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawaari, condemned the described the attack as a “cowardly act”.
“These enemies will never derail us from our twin goals of achieving peace and progress in Somalia: two brave goals, which though they may fight against, they will never have victory.”
He hailed the swift response of the security forces saying they performed their duties ‘admirably’ and vowed to continue the fight against terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, the 15-member Security Council expressed “outrage’ over the attack and vowed that the assault and “other senseless acts of terrorism would not diminish” their support for AMISOM.
The UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday condemned the attack, expressing “solidarity and support” for Somali lawmakers. “There can be no justification for such attacks,” he said.
The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, condemned the “attack against the people of Somalia for which there can be no justification.”
US State Department’s deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf, condemned a “cowardly” attack and said the US would “stand firmly with Somalia and international partners to support its efforts to root out the threat posed by al-Shabaab”.
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Three Ugandan peacekeepers killed during Somalia attack