The start of a new year in peacekeeping operations is – by and large – another day of operations ranging from convoy escort and patrol duties to removing improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
This, as per standard operating procedure, was assigned to the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force (UPDF) route search explosive devices team on the major Lower Shabelle Shalambot/Ceeljale supply route as a first tasking for 2024. The team is attached to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
The team was deployed after IEDs, seemingly planted by al-Shabaab fighters, exploded, hitting a civilian vehicle carrying five people. The wounded were all evacuated by an ATMIS humanitarian convoy to Ceelwaligo for treatment.
After the team cleared the suspect section of road, Uganda Battle Group 37 Commander, Colonel Charles Asiimwe, condemned the planting of IEDs.
“The heinous and barbaric acts committed by Al-Shabaab of emplacing IEDs along roads must be condemned by peace loving people of the world. Al-Shabaab is hell-bent on seeing that Somalia does not attain total peace,” he is reported as saying by the mission.
Neutralising IEDs aims to ensure safety for humanitarian relief convoys delivering essential aid to communities in need of supplies.
ATMIS maintains planting IEDs is a tactic employed by al-Shabaab to prevent travellers from using public roads.