Roadside bomb in Somalia claims UPDF soldier’s life

Kampala (Caasimada Online) – Sgt John Byaruhanga, a soldier with the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and a heavy recovery truck driver, died in a roadside bomb blast in Somalia.

On September 15th, a UPDF convoy journeying from Beledamin to Golweyne faced a deadly encounter. As they maneuvered, a truck in the convoy got trapped in a pothole. 

Byaruhanga stepped out to investigate and remedy the situation. But as he attempted to release the stuck tires, a concealed explosive under the truck was triggered, claiming his life instantly.

Col. Deo Akiiki, the UPDF deputy spokesman, provided a detailed account of the tragedy, stating, “Our super convoy moving from Beledamin towards Golweyne was hit by an RSIED at Shen Tarka Xasan Gutan’s former factory, merely four kilometers from Beledamin Forward Operating Base (FOB).” 

Akiiki further confirmed that aside from Byaruhanga’s tragic death, another vehicle suffered damage, and three other soldiers, who remain unidentified, sustained injuries.

All the injured were promptly evacuated to the Level 11 Hospital in Baidoa, Somalia.

Personal grief and national tragedy

Fred Fredo Byenkya, Sgt Byaruhanga’s brother, shared his heart-wrenching anguish in a message, expressing, “Dear friends and colleagues, I announce the death of brother Afande John Byaruhanga, who fell victim to a suspected bomb attack in Somalia.” 

Byaruhanga, a dedicated serviceman under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), was preparing for his return to his homeland when fate took an unfortunate turn. 

Originating from Kagadi in Buyaga West, he leaves behind two grieving wives, several children, and a distraught community.

Byenkya further narrated the harrowing details of how they received the news. “Moses Kasaka, a family member and a lecturer at Makerere University, relayed the tragic news after hearing from Byaruhanga’s commanders in Somalia,” Byenkya recounted.

Future implications and closure

Such attacks underline the volatile situation in Somalia and the immense risks UPDF soldiers face daily. 

The fragility of peace, combined with the ever-present threat of insurgency, presents a daunting challenge. For families like Byaruhanga’s, the cost of serving the nation becomes heartbreakingly real.

The Byaruhanga family now awaits the formal handover of the body by UPDF. “We request your prayers in this trying moment,” implored Byenkya, highlighting the intertwined emotions of grief, pride, and loss.

In June, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni reported that a total of 54 Ugandan peacekeepers tragically lost their lives in one of Al-Shabab’s most severe recent assaults, as the militant group attacked an African Union base in the conflict-ridden nation of Somalia.

Al-Shabab, a group committed to a lethal insurgency against Somalia’s tenuous central government for over a decade, took responsibility for the May 26th attack.