ENTEBBE— A pall hung over Entebbe Military Airbase as the aircraft carrying the bodies of Ugandan troops killed in last weekend’s ambush in Somalia taxied to a stop this afternoon.
Only a few months ago these 12 soldiers were part of the UPDF’s 7th Battalion which formed the Ugandan army’s Battle Group 20.
Deployed to Somalia after weeks of pre-mission orientation and training they had hoped to continue doing the very difficult and dangerous job championed by the UPDF under the auspices of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), of pacifying Somalia.
Their mission was brought to a sudden and bloody end on the morning of July 30.
They had been part of a joint Somalia national army and Amisom patrol securing a section of the main supply route along the Bulu-Maler and Beladamim corridor in Goroyowen when they came under enemy fire.
Caught by surprise in the ambush, they were killed in action. Seven of their colleagues injured in the same firefight with al shabaab militants are undergoing treatment in the Somali capital’s Mogadishu Level II Hospital.
At Entebbe to receive the bodies were Commander Land Forces, Maj. Gen. Peter Elwelu, Deputy Chief Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Wilson Mbadi, other officers and family members of the deceased.
The mood at the airbase was sombre and as the caskets were rolled out of the plane, tears flowed and wails of grief split the afternoon air.
As the National Anthem and Last Post were played, the Uganda Flag and military colours were flying at half mast.