Ugandan Peacekeepers Attacked

29.01.08

Categorie: Africa, U.N. Peacekeeping |

“Two more Ugandan peacekeepers were injured … as a mortar hit their base at Mogadishu International Airport,” New Vision Online reports:

“A mortar was thrown at our defence at around 1:00pm,” said A.U. spokesman, Maj. Ba-Hoku Barigye.

“It came from some two kilometers away. Three soldiers, two Ugandans and one Burundian, sustained injuries from shrapnel.”

The attack brings to five the number of Ugandans injured in Mogadishu in just two days. On Saturday, an armoured vehicle on patrol hit an anti-tank mine near the sea port, wounding three.

The incidents are a bad start for the new Ugandan contingent of 1,600 soldiers, which relieved their colleagues last week.

Until Burundi joined in a month ago, Uganda had been the only country contributing troops to AMISOM, the A.U. peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Even replacing the soldiers was a hazardous operation. A deadly silence filled the packed belly of the Hercules of the Ugandan Air Force as it was preparing to land on Wednesday.

“We cannot fly over the city for fear of missile attacks,” explained the pilot as we skimmed the golden coast line.

As far as indirect fire goes, part of the problem is that the Ugandans have no surveillance capability to speak of — no aircraft, no drones — and thus no way of spotting then catching attacking mortar teams. Insurgents can lob bombs on the peacekeepers without fear of reprisal. It’s the downside of old-school counter-insurgency tactics.

One way the U.S. could help the Ugandans is to provide some of these specialized capabilities. But don’t count on it: U.S. Somalia policy is hopelessly confused.

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