Several days after the return of fallen UPDF soldiers from Somalia, details are emerging about why their burials have yet to take place.
The UPDF lost 54 troops under ATMIS when Al Shabaab overran their forward operating base in Somalia last month.
However, The raid was the deadliest and was partly blamed on a lack of intelligence and the order for the troops under attack to withdraw hastily to another UPDF base nine kilometers away, abandoning pricey equipment including two T-55 tanks, 14.5mm anti-aircraft guns, and 107mm Katyusha rocket launchers. The camp commander, Lt. Col. Nyororo, was killed.
In addition, two majors who allegedly gave the withdrawal order have since been arrested. They could face charges of cowardice in the court martial under Section 29 of the UPDF Act, which says a person subject to military law who displays cowardice in action, including running away or inciting others to run away from the enemy, if convicted of the offence of cowardice, suffers death or life imprisonment.
Sources told us last night that when Al Shabaab took over the camp and stayed there for days after the UPDF’s hasty withdrawal, they collected most of the dead UPDF soldiers’ bodies, cut them into pieces in a bizarre ritual, and burned them. It is said most of the bodies were burned to cinders, and only the ashes were collected and returned to Uganda. A source said most of Col. Nyororo’s body was also destroyed, and only his head could be recognized.
“Most caskets contained almost just sand obtained after DNA tests on trash collected from where the bodies were burned.” Some DNA samples of the dead soldiers aren’t matching those of their relatives, so more tests have to be done before burials can start,” the source added.
The UPDF first deployed in Somalia in 2007 under AMISOM, which was under a UN mandate. The mission is now under the Africa Union (ATMIS), and Uganda is the largest troop contributor.
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