By Joseph Elunya
Five Uganda Peopleâ€™s Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers have been killed and 21 others injured in a bomb blast in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A highly placed source who preferred anonymity told the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Uganda-CIJU that the five who include a soldier at the rank of a Major were killed by a landmine on Wednesday while on a foot patrol in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The source, said the dead Major is a born ofÂ Kanungu district.
The Army Spokesperson Brigadier Felix Kulaigye said he was not aware of the incident and instead referred CIJU to the Spokesperson of Operation Shuja Maj. Peter Mugisha who also claimed that he had not heard of the incident.
The army had until this weekâ€™s incident claimed that they had only lost one soldier who died in a Rocket Propel Gun accident.
The UPDF launched â€œOperation Shujaaâ€ on 30th November 2021 by bombing four Allied Democratic Forces camps of Tondoli, Kambi Yayu, Abia, Belu 1 and Belu 2 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Operation Shujaa is being implemented following a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Uganda and the DRC, to conduct joint operations for the eradication of ADF and other foreign armed groups in the eastern part of DRC.
The operations are taking place in Ituri and Grand North Provinces. It is anticipated that restoration of security will enable road construction works on the Kasindi – Beni – Butembo and Bunagana – Rutshuru – Goma highways by the two countries
The UPDF Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Wilson Mbandi met with his Congolese counterpart Gen Munsense Celestin on April 16, over the â€œImplementation of the Status of the Forces Agreement (SOFA)â€.
A press release issued after the meeting indicates that the two army chiefs stressed that the next phase of operation Shujaa will focus on; neutralizing the enemyâ€™s freedom of action and movement, hindering its recruitment and training drive, disconnecting the enemyâ€™s communication and coordination network with other negative forces in the region, cutting off the enemyâ€™s supply routes, securing more liberated areas thereby protecting civilians and enabling IDPs to return to their homes.
The next phase will also include ensuring the safety of road works on Kasindi-Beni-Butembo and Bunagana-Rutshuru-Goma roads and the need to take into account the timelines given to operations in order to avoid prolonging the mission unnecessarily was equally emphasized.