MOGADISHU - The African Union has awarded medals to a contingent of Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers for their outstanding role in securing strategic towns and major supply routes in Somalia.
The troops, who have completed their one-year tour of duty, were honoured for their hard work in safeguarding Mogadishu International Airport zone, areas neighbouring Mogadishu and major supply routes connecting the capital city and other nearby towns.
"I commend Battle group 24 for their industrious approach in preventing Al-Shabaab from conducting complex attacks in the Mogadishu International Airport area and securing districts of Banadir, Afgooye and parts of Waleweyn,"
Lt. Gen. Tigabu Yilma Wondimhunegn said at a medal awards ceremony held in Mogadishu on Monday.
Gen. Tigabu noted that residents of Mogadishu and neighbouring areas were able to go about their business, due to security provided by the outgoing battle group.
Deployed in April last year, the battlegroup's area of responsibility included Arbiska, Baledogle, Afgoye, Lantabur and Albao. The contingent was also responsible for securing key government facilities and installations including State House, Parliament, seaport and Mogadishu International Airport zone.
The UPDF Contingent Commander, Brig. Gen. Michael Kabango, praised the battlegroup for their commitment and hard work in fulfilling AMISOM's mandate of stabilizing Somalia.
"We can now drive, transport supplies from Mogadishu to Baledogle and civilians living around this area are also safe thanks to the efforts made by Battlegroup 24 under AMISOM," said Brig. Gen. Kabango.
The contingent commander noted that efforts to clear main supply routes was bearing fruit, saying AMISOM can now transport consignments from Mogadishu, through Afgooye to the port city of Marka.
The UPDF, Brig. Gen. Kabango noted, has succeeded in Somalia due to its involvement in counterinsurgency operations back at home and participation in regional peacekeeping efforts in the continent.
Some of the major successes registered by the outgoing battlegroup are the liberation of strategic town of Sabiid Anole, in Lower Shabelle, from the control of Al-Shabaab and seizing and disabling a large number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in its area of operation.
On his part, the Battlegroup Commander, Col. Jackson Kayanja, thanked the leadership of AU Mission for supporting his troops during their tour of duty.