By Taddeo Bwambale
Burial arrangements are underway for the three Ugandan AMISOM peacekeepers killed during an attack on the Somali Parliament last Saturday.
Philip Baligeya (WO II), Albert Onzele (WO II) and Joseph Ochaya (Pte) were killed during a fierce fight in which 13 al-Shabaab militants were gunned down. The al-Qaeda-linked insurgents have since claimed responsibility for the attack.
The fighters, donning suicide vests entered the Somali Parliament building, shortly after detonating a car bomb near the main entrance, while parliament was in session.
Four Somali soldiers and a police officer were also killed during the joint response operation between AMISOM and Somali security forces that lasted for four hours.
All the MPs were safely evacuated. Only one suffered minor injuries. Three other injured Ugandan soldiers — Ronald Otim Kisa (Pte), Deo Dralu Asirafu (Pte) and Christopher Obwona (Lance Corporal), are in a stable condition at the AMISOM Level II Hospital in Mogadishu.
The spokesperson of Uganda’s AMISOM contingent, Maj. Deo Akiiki, Tuesday said the bodies of the UPDF soldiers were flown back home after a ceremony presided over by the deputy force commander in charge of operations and plans, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Muheesi.
He commended the soldiers for being brave and displaying a spirit of Pan-Africanism. Muheesi added: “They died for a noble cause; a call by their country and the people of Somalia.”
Burials are scheduled this week at the different ancestral homes of the fallen soldiers. PHOTO/PPU
Uganda is part the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. PHOTO/AFP
Last week's attack on the Somali Parliament building was the latest of recent strikes by the al-Shabaab group. PHOTO/AFP
The function was attended by the acting contingent commander, Col. Emmy Mulindwa and senior UPDF officers. Muheesi said the death of the troops caused great grief to the UPDF family and all bereaved but vowed to “stay on course till Somalia is fully liberated”.
On Sunday, the commander of the Special Forces Command, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, hailed the elite army unit for defeating those who attacked the parliament.
“Our boys who were part of the combined force that defeated the attackers did a great job,” said Muhoozi who has on several occasions been in combat in Somalia alongside other peacekeepers.
Burials are scheduled this week at the different ancestral homes of the deceased.
Baligeya was from Kaliro district; Ozelle from Nebbi district and Ochaya from Pader district.
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UPDF names soldiers killed in Somalia