The Ugandan military has accused Somali intelligence officials of negligent behaviour in the death of two Somali soldiers when a convoy carrying Uganda’s top commander fired on Somali security officials manning their checkpoint.
A spokesman for the Ugandan military doubled down on criticism from civic organizations on Monday, saying that AMISOM rules of engagement calls for self-defence when shot upon.
“There is absolutely no reason why the AMISOM forces in their designated sector of responsibility should have been blocked and fired at en route back to the base after providing critical support and with some victims of the attack being quickly evacuated for urgent medical attention,” said Uganda’s military spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire.
“As the incident is being investigated, let it be clear that AMISOM rules of engagement provide for self-defence and anyone who fires at these forces becomes a target,” he added.
The Friday evening, friendly-fire shootout involving the convoy of Brigadier Paul Lokech, the head of the Ugandan contingent of AMISOM, began when soldiers from the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) erected security checkpoints at KM4 roundabout after twin bomb blasts by Al-Shabaab killed dozens.
An AMISOM statement says Lokech’s convoy was also transporting injured civilians to a military hospital located in Halane.
“Following their heroic intervention, while transporting injured civilians to the AMISOM Level II Hospital, the AMISOM Quick Reaction Forces were involved in an incident at a NISA checkpoint near KM4. The incident is under investigation by both the FGS (Federal Government of Somalia) and AMISOM.”
A security official who spoke with HOL said that the NISA soldiers manning the KM4 checkpoint were given strict instructions to secure the roundabout and lockdown the road to the airport.
The AU convoy was told that in light of the terror attacks, they would have to use another route to the airport.
The incident report also states that after 5PM, protocol dictates that AMISOM troops must use an alternative route to the airport.
A brief argument ensued between a Ugandan soldier and a NISA soldier, with multiple accounts suggesting that the AU soldier unholstered his pistol, leading to NISA soldiers to simultaneously draw their weapons and take aim and the AU soldiers. After a few tense moments, the AU soldiers returned to their vehicles, ostensibly to wait on instructions.
Suddenly a gunfire erupted, who shot first is still officially unclear.
However, a damning accusation from a Somali government official who requested anonymity alleges that the authorization to shoot came down from Brigadier Gen Paul Lokech. A troubling revelation, if true.
Within minutes two NISA soldiers were killed and a senior legal adviser to the justice ministry, Abdirizak Ahmed Sheikh, was critically injured. Three civilian passerbys were also shot and wounded.
HOL has reached out to AMISOM and Somali security officials for further comment but both parties declined to speak with us citing ongoing investigations into the incident.