Al-Shabaab militants have taken control of a town in Somalia shortly after the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) handed it over to the federal government there.
A contingent of UPDF soldiers serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) left Marianguwaay Forward Operating Base in Lower Shabelle in the control of the Somalia government.
Brig Gen Don Nabasa presided over the exit ceremony on Sunday in presence of the Governor of Lower Shabelle, Mr Abdikadir Murshid Sidi.
The Ugandan troops were relocated as part of the troops’ realignment to give more effective security to main supply routes and general public areas, Amisom said in a statement.
But Al-Shabaab militants immediately retook the town, sparking debate on the preparedness of the Somali National Army (SNA) to take over security responsibilities in the country.
Witnesses said the militants stormed the town moments after the exit of UPDF and raised their traditional black flag in the town. The town is now under their full control, witnesses added.
Governor Sidi blamed the SNA troops for delaying to move to the town. According to him, initial arrangements dictated that SNA troops were to report immediately, but they delayed.
Marianguwaay Forward Operating Base was formed in 2014 to ease movement between Barawe and Marka towns in Lower Shabelle.
While handing over the control base to SNA, Gen Nabasa said: “Marianguwaay has been one of the most peaceful areas. I extend my gratitude on behalf of Amisom and Sector I to the local leaders and the community for cooperating with our troops,” he added.
The governor of Lower Shabelle, Abdikadir Murshid Sidi, noted that the presence of the Amisom troops and those from SNA had significantly weakened the Al-Shabaab militants, who had been controlling hives swathes of Since 2014, Amisom troops have jointly operated in the general area of Marianguwaay, significantly improving the security situation of the area.