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Ugandan helicopter accidents will affect Somalia operations
Xinhua
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

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The Ugandan military on Tuesday said the loss of its three combat helicopters enroute to Somalia has affected its planned aerial operation in the volatile Horn of African country.

 Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, Commander Land Forces told reporters here while giving an update on the multiple helicopter crush in neighboring Kenya that the country’s military chiefs will assess the impact of the accident and decide on the operations.

"We shall asses, if we find we still have the capacity we shall go ahead.

"Operations in Somalia won’t end; this was just an unfortunate incident," he said.

He said the general view is that the aerial operation will continue despite the loss of the three Russian made Mi 24 helicopters.

Four Ugandan military helicopters left Uganda on Sunday enroute to Somalia but three crushed on Mount Kenya while the other arrived Garisa in Kenya bordering Somalia.

Katumba said that each helicopter had seven soldiers.

He said 21 soldiers are so far accounted for while the search for the other seven is continuing.

He said although all the choppers have been found, five people who are said to have been in one of the helicopters that got burnt are missing while two bodies have been reportedly sighted in the burnt wreckage, bringing the total of unaccounted for soldiers to seven.

He said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has instituted a probe to the accident that has greatly affected the Ugandan air force.

The Ugandan military last week deployed its air force contingent and helicopters to support the ongoing African Union (AU) peace efforts in volatile Somalia.

The helicopters were to be used for aerial combat against Somali militants, provide aerial escort for convoys, reconnaissance along the supply routes, medical evacuations, air search and rescue operations.

They were also supposed to provide air cover in Somalia to support the AU peacekeeping mission composed of contingents from countries like Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda.

Uganda currently has over 8,000 soldiers under the AU peacekeeping mission to help stabilize and pacify the troubled Horn of Africa country.


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