One thousand troops from the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces arrived in the Somalia capital Mogadishu over the weekend, Garowe Online reported today.
Led by Colonel Paul Muwanguzi, the battalion replaces Battle Group XXII that completed its military tour last Friday. The new batch completed its training early this month at the Peace Support Operations Training Centre in Singo, Uganda.
The forces’ have been deployed in an effort to support the weak domestic police and armed forces against the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Shabaab group.
Commenting on the Battle Group XXII, Commander of Ugandan forces in Somalia, Brigadier Paul Lokech, said the troops have shown “a deep sense of commitment and sacrifice”.
“In the struggle to pacify this country, we have lost comrades. In the struggle to pacify this country, we have wounded [Ugandan city of] Mubende. We still look at the scars of what went through. But all this has been to help out African brothers and sisters; the Somalis,” Lokech continued.
“One of the pillars in our doctrine is pan-Africanism. And that’s the agenda that drew us into this mission. We have no other interest beyond this. The main focus of our coming to Somalia is to help the Somalis get back to where they were some 30 years ago.”
Al-Shabaab fighters last week detonated a suicide car bomb before storming a military base in the south of Somalia, killing some 27 soldiers. Off the back of the car bomb attack, the United States executed air strikes against Al-Shabaab, though the number of casualties is unknown.
The group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic law. It has killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.
The Ugandan military announced last year that it would withdraw troops from Somalia late last year, following major loses to its military personnel and a United Nation’s plan to rescind African Union (AU) troops from Somalia.
Some 20,000 soldiers are currently serving as part of the UN-backed fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia. Uganda has sent some 6,000 troops to Somalia since 2007.