President Yoweri Museveni has described the incident at Buulo-Mareer, in Somalia, where Al Shabaab attacked a Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) contingent manning a Forward Operation Base (FOB) and killed 137 soldiers as unfortunate.
The president has since issued a statement saying that while the FOB defences are quite strong, they are guarded by weak weapons and this was manipulated by the Al Shabaab resulting into the Friday morning incident.
In a detailed report, the president revealed that the FOB had two tanks, two 14.5mm anti- aircraft guns and a 107mm Katyusha rocket launcher. “Some of the soldiers there did not perform as expected and panicked, which disorganized them and the Al-Shabaab took advantage of that to overrun the base and destroy some of the equipment,” he said.
“The panic, it seems, was totally unnecessary because, in fact, both the anti-tank ditch and our soldiers had destroyed the 3 vehicles of explosives outside the FOB. The suicide bombers or whatever, were forced to blow themselves up before they gained entry into the base.
“Moreover, our UAVs were watching the whole scenario from up in the sky and directing fire. The CDF has set up a Board of Inquiry (BOI) and the full facts will come out, including the details of the casualties.
“Many of the soldiers withdrew to the next FOB, nine kilometres away. The terrorists were many, about 800 or so according to the UAVs.
“Hence, it was a missed opportunity, to annihilate them. The operations are continuing, and they will regret their actions,” the president revealed further.
The president said this unfortunate incident should be used to remind all those concerned, that operations in Somalia and other theatres, are combat missions and not welfare missions where you can access UN allowances.
“It is criminal for anybody involved, to send into such a theatre soldier who are either not suited for that mission or not properly prepared for it. Details will come out after the BOI has finished its work,” the president warned.