Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said his troops lost 54 soldiers after al-Shabaab militants overrun its base in Somalia.
Museveni told the National Resistance Movement parliamentary caucus that one commander was among the soldiers killed in last month’s deadly attack on its Forward Operations Base (FOB).
While responding to pertinent questions raised by NRM members on the attack, Museveni said a mistake was made when two commanders ordered the UPDF troops to retreat during the attack.
This he said gave the enemy an advantage to launch more attacks.
“Our soldiers demonstrated remarkable resilience and reorganized themselves, resulting in the recapture of the base. We discovered the lifeless bodies of fifty-four fallen soldiers, including a Commander,” Museveni said.
He said the militants attempted another ill-fated attack on Baraawe Town, but the troops dealt a significant blow, forcing them to flee.
“The mistake was made by two commanders, Maj Oluka and Maj Obbo, who ordered the soldiers to retreat. They have been apprehended and will face charges in the Court Martial,” the President said.
Museveni last month said the ‘panic’ by Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), gave the al-Shabaab militants an advantage to overrun the base.
Museveni in a statement after the deadly attack said the Forward Operational Bas in Bulo-Maree is manned by a strong company of the UPDF soldiers, although guarded by light weapons.
Various security intelligence accounts had said 50 soldiers died in the attack although the militants put the figure at 137.
“Some of the soldiers there did not perform as expected and ‘panicked’, which disorganised them and the Al-Shabaab took advantage of that to overran the base and destroy some of the equipment,” Museveni said.
While insisting the panic was totally unnecessary, Museveni said the anti-tank ditch and the soldiers had destroyed the 3 vehicles of explosives outside the operations base forcing suicide bombers 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,” he said.
Museveni said the raid saw many of the soldiers withdraw to the next FOB, nine kilometres away after they were overpowered by over 800 militants.
“This was a missed opportunity, to annihilate them. The operations are continuing and they will regret their actions,” he said.