News24

Uganda choppers 'had rough landings'

2012-08-13 14:02

Nairobi - One Ugandan military helicopter made an emergency landing and two others came down hard after being dispatched to strengthen peacekeeping troops in Somalia, a Ugandan military spokesperson said on Monday.

Colonel Felix Kulayigye, the Ugandan army spokesperson, told reporters in Kampala there were no fatalities. He did not say where the helicopters landed or how many military personnel they were carrying. He said two made a "hard landing".

Kenyan Military spokesperson Bogita Ongeri earlier said that only one helicopter out of the four that left a base in Entebbe, Uganda on Sunday evening landed in Kenya, in the northern town of Garissa.

 Ongeri said one of the pilots from the missing helicopters radioed from the Mount Kenya region on Monday morning and the Kenyan military launched a search and rescue operation. Poor visibility hampered that effort, he said.

The Ugandan military forms the bulk of the African Union forces in Somalia that are battling the al-Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabaab, which is waging an insurgency against Somalia's weak government.

Ugandan and Burundian forces pushed al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu about a year ago. Helicopters will further aid their counterinsurgency efforts.

Kenya and Burundi have also dispatched to troops to fight al-Shabaab, which neighbouring countries view as a regional threat. The militants are now concentrated in the southern coast town of Kismayo, which is likely to be the next scene of serious fighting.

Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991, when long-time dictator Siad Barre was ousted by warlords who then turned on each other.