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The numbers game on the actual fallen soldiers after the Al-Shabab attack on the AMISOM military base of Janaale in Somalia on the 1. September 2015

ALJAZEERA Somali AMISOM

There been righteous ways of seeing this and also the flabbergasting way as well. The sadness of it all it’s a lot of lives been lost for the security of Somalia and the central area around Mogadishu which the AMISOM and the African Union Mission in Somalia is keeping. They have gotten setbacks before while being on the mission and it peaceful efforts in the country. It’s not the mandate I will discuss in this piece. This piece will show the numbers are of the fallen are not structured. There are reasons to believe that Al-Shabab want as great numbers as possible to prove it was worth for their cause. Secondly it’s natural that AMISOM and the UPDF want as little loss of lives as possible and also keep mouth shut about the actual number since that might have a backlash in Uganda. That’s the reason why I question it today. What I will comment on is the different numbers of fallen soldiers. We can also question the accuracy since even the reports they have named the military base of Janaale/Janale which is it? Another thing is the kilometer length from Mogadishu to the base is from 45 kilometers to 100 kilometers depending on which report. I will not mention who says what, but it seems strange that the place will be that far apart in distance from Mogadishu in one report and 50 kilometers less in another one. But the real issue is how many soldiers did fall in the mercy of the Al-Shabab in the military base. Here is the different reports form the 1st September to the 3rd September, both in media and of official sources:

But this story is about the attack that AU Chairman condemns on 1. September 2015 that was in Janaale which is 65 kilometers from Mogadishu. “Gunmen attacked the base at Janaale in the Lower Shabelle region with a car bomb at about 4:30 a.m. local time Tuesday. Al-Shabab gunmen then entered the camp, triggering a gunfight with AU soldiers”. They reported in VOA on the 1. September said that there were 19 killed in the attack (Joseph & Hannas, 2015).

In the Kenyan Newspaper Daily Nation their reports was this: “”It is assessed that at least 50 Amison troops died,” said a briefing note sent to diplomats by Western military officials” (…) “”They were collecting dead bodies, I saw nearly 30 soldiers killed during the fighting,” said local resident Hussein Idris” (Daily Nation, 2015).

Haberler.com had on the 2nd September unconfirmed reports they said from anonymous source to the Anadolu Agency the source said that “18 bodies have been recovered from the Janaale military base” (Haberler.com, 2015).

On the 2nd September Henry Obbo of the UPDF tweeted: “Alshabaab has not overrun AMISOM base in Janaale nor has AMISOM lost such huge numbers of soldiers. That is mere propaganda”.

On the 3rd September Mr. Paddy Akunda said:

“The names of the dead will be published now that the next of kin have been notified as per our policy”(…)” The 10 peacekeepers , whose bodies were returned today are:Leutenant David Etua Ondoma, Sergeant Charles Outa, Sergeant Charles Ojange, Sergeant Eddy Kakaire, Sergeant Abubaker Mugumya, Sergeant Emmanuel Wanyama, Lance Corporal Andrew Engema, Lance Corporal Phinius Ochowun, Private Isaac Okidi Lotyang and Private Geoffrey Kintu” (…)”​This attack is a game changer, Al-shabaab can only expect an appropriate response from UPDF.We will not relent in our efforts to help in the pacification of Somalia despite the attack” . The total number that the spokesman says was deceased in the attack was 12 men from the UPDF” (Anyoli, 2015).

CNN reports this numbers on the 3 September:

“At least 37 African Union soldiers were killed in an attack by Al-Shabaab militants in southern Somalia on Tuesday, according to military sources in Uganda and Somalia” (Kriel & Duggan, 2015).

Witnesses and Al-Shabab claim on the 3rd September:

“No official death toll has been given but Somalia’s extremist insurgents al-Shabab claimed that 50 soldiers were killed” (SomaliAgenda, 2015).  Amhed Yasin eyewitness said this: ““After almost one hour the gunfire stopped and al-Shabab fighters started transporting armaments and troops’ belongings into awaiting cars” (…)”Al-Shabab later abandoned the base after emptying it of all belongings. I could see men in soldiers’ dress being forced into vehicles who might have been soldiers taken captive”.  Another man who also is a witness to the attack said this: “blood and soldiers’ uniforms everywhere” he was Hashi Sheikh Elmi. Maalin Muhummed Nur said this:“One commander said, ‘You have to know that we are always around and will get any apostates among you … working with the enemy.’”(SomaliAgenda, 2015).

Gen Odong Jeje statement in Parliament on the 3rd September:

“On the morning of 1st Sept 2015 at 5:30 am, Alshabab attacked a UPDF unit at Janale approximately 90 km South East of Mogadishu. Janale is in the Shabele province. The result of this attack so far are as follows:

Own side: 10 dead

Enemy side: 46 dead, 2 captured alive.

I am giving you these figures so that you are informed and not swayed by the outrageous stories in the media” (Gen Odong Jeje, 2015).

CDF Gen Katumba Wamala statement on the 3rd September:

He said: ““My visit was prompted by what happened here in Janaale, where we are now, where our base was attacked by the Al Shabaab using a vehicle bomb IED to breach the defense and where we incurred some casualties; some of our friends lost their lives. I came one, to assess how the situation was and to get a clear picture; how the whole thing happened, and also establish whether they were any flaws in terms of the response. I am convinced that the boys put up a good fight” (…)”I just want to give assurance to our partners and also the other soldiers that all is under control and definitively nothing much to worry about. Our hearts go out to the galant soldiers who lost their lives as they were executing this noble task of defending and protecting the civilians in this country against the bad fellows Al Shabab” (AMISOM, 2015).

Afterthought:

This here is massive and no matter how you look on it’s a sad event. Too many people lost their lives on this base. The issue is that the report from all the sources and witnesses doesn’t add up. I could have looked into what the military explained about the explosion and the eyewitness accounts on the actual attack. This has also a detail that doesn’t add up. There are so many numbers, accounts and sources that make the facts on the ground a worrying account. Especially to all those families who has soldiers in the AMISOM brigades of UPDF that are stationed in the area. There been released ten names. There been numbers up to 50 dead UPDF soldiers. Other official sources say Gen Odong Jeje said 10 soldiers; Lt. Col. Paddy Akunda the military official said 12 peacekeepers. The other once goes from 18 soldiers to the Anadolu Agency, VOA reported that it was 19 Soldiers, local resident and eyewitness Hussain Idris said 30 soldiers, CNN reported said 37 soldiers.   

No matter if it is 10, 12 or 37 Soldiers in the UPDF that has fallen in the battle of military base. It should be sure every single one of them is one to many. That I think we all are on accord with. The loss of these men is a sad thing for the AMISOM, the UPDF and the Republic of Uganda. For the loss of their men in Somalia in the African Union mission. I personally wished that the actual number would appear and that the difference between the CNN and the military sources wasn’t that big as it is. There is all the reasons in the world to believe that the Al-Shabab would juice their numbers up to prove that their attack had effect. So it’s the difference between the military, other sources and the media that are staggering and makes people like me wonder and question it all. That the attack appeared and that are people who has lost their lives is something we can be sure about. Since the pictures of the fallen and caskets with the Ugandan flags has been released as they have been flown home. The thing we have to question, which sources are true here? Who tells the actual facts on the ground? What is reality and what is spiked up? Feel me?

In the end I will do the same as Gen. Odong Jeje did in parliament today: “May I request we rise in a minute of silence in honor of our dead comrades”. Peace.

Reference:

AMISOM – ‘STORY: Ugandan, CDF Visits and Commends Frontline Troops in Janaale, Somalia’ (03.09.2015), AMISOM PUBLIC INFORMATION

Anyoli, Edward – ‘UPDF loses 10 soldiers in Somalia attack’ (03.09.2015) link: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/672966-updf-loses-12-soldiers-in-somalia-attack.html

Joseph, Dan & Hannas, Chris – ‘19 AU Soldiers Killed in Somali Al-Shabab Attack’ (01.09.2015) link: http://www.voanews.com/content/al-shabab-militants-attack-amisom-base/2940387.html

En.Haberler.com – ‘Shabaab Kills Dozens Of Ugandan Troops İn Somalia: Reports’ (02.09.2015) link: http://en.haberler.com/shabaab-kills-dozens-of-ugandan-troops-in-somalia-794252/

Kriel, Robyn & Duggan, Briana – ‘Military sources: Al-Shabaab attack in Somalia kills dozens of AU troops’ (03.09.2015) link: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/03/africa/somalia-al-shabaab-attack/

Nation.co.ke – ‘Al-Shabaab kills ‘over 50’ Amisom soldiers, say Western sources’ (02.09.2015) link: http://www.nation.co.ke/news/Al-Shabaab-kills-over-50-Amisom-soldiers-say-Western-sources/-/1056/2855476/-/g0cs33z/-/index.html

SomaliAgenda – ‘RESIDENTS: DEAD BODIES LAY INSIDE AFRICAN UNION MILITARY BASE AFTER SOMALIA ATTACK’ (03.09.2015) link: https://somaliagenda.com/residents-dead-bodies-lay-inside-african-union-military-base-after-somalia-attack/

Statement to Parliament on the unfortunate attack of UPDF detachment at Janale Somalia by Gen Odong Jeje, 3rd September 2015, Uganda.

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