As the world prepared to celebrate Easter, Al Shabaab terrorists were on the other hand planning to spoil the day for the Ugandan army under AMISOM.
Between 9 and 10 am on Easter Sunday, the group struck when they were least expected and tried to forcefully enter four different bases for the AMISOM troops.
According to a source privy to the incidents, the Islamist group launched coordinated attacks on forward operating bases in Quoryole, Bulomareer, Golweyn and Mashallay in the Lower Shabelle region as they thought the troops were in Easter mood.
In all the four attacks, the terrorists used Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) before launching mortar attacks on the bases but were repulsed by both the AMISOM UPDF and Somali forces.
“They aimed at achieving surprise in order to overrun the UPDF and Somalia forces defences but their plans were defeated by the forces,” a civilian source in Somalia told the Nile Post.
Since being forced out of the country’s capital Mogadishu, the Al Shabaab militant group has maintained strong presence in regions outside the capital including the Lower Shabelle region where Bulomareer town is located.
In this town, the UPDF has a forward operating base and it was one of those that were attacked on Easter Sunday by insurgents.
The place of the Sunday attack in the volatile Shabelle region is only 15 kilometres from the previous place where 12 Ugandans soldiers were killed in an ambush last year.
During the Sunday attack, the insurgents used two VBIEDs to burst through the UPDF barracks checkpoint but this was not successful as it ended there.
Meanwhile, a group of over 500 marauding militants attacked the base from nearly all directions before opening and maintaining and onslaught in a bid to advance and overrun the base but these met stiff resistance from the Ugandan army.
They were met with superior power from the UPDF and were eventually overpowered and many of their causalities evacuated in disarray and an assortment of their weapons and ammunition destroyed during the battle.
UPDF spokesperson Brig.Richard Karemire confirmed that during the attack,30 militants from the enemy were put out of action whereas others sustained serious injuries.
“The UPDF lost four gallant soldiers and six sustained minor injuries and the mopping up operation continues,” Karemire said.
He noted that eight of the attackers’ vehicles had been destroyed whereas four PK rifles, two RPGs, two recoilless guns and 18 SMGs were recovered from the attackers.
The Al Quaeda affiliated group however declared they had killed more than 50 UPDF soldiers but this was refuted by the Ugandan army as being a propaganda by the Islamists after suffering a bloody nose following the attack.
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira, lauded the AMISOM troops for the “gallantry they displayed’’ during the battle on Easter Sunday.
“We honor our brave soldiers, who are resolute in continuing to neutralize the insurgents in order to restore peace and stability in Somalia,” Madeira said in a statement on Monday .
President Museveni last month appealed to all troop-contributing countries to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and international partners to step up their assistance to the Somali peace keeping mission for the continuity of relative peace and security in Somalia.
“If we do things right then Somalia can become much better than before,” he urged.
Uganda is the biggest contributor of troops to the 22,000-strong AMISOM force since 2007 contributing roughly 80% of the number.
Other countries with troops in Somalia are Kenya, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Sierra Leone.