Maj Patrick Opio Awany, Brother of NRM Secretary General, Killed in Somalia

Maj Patrick Opio Awany, Brother of NRM Secretary General, Killed in Somalia

Maj Patrick Opio Awany, brother of the ruling NRM Secretary General Richard Todwong, was killed in Somalia. According to deputy defence spokesperson Col Deo Akiiki, Awany, serving as a convoy commander, was killed when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by Al Shabaab hit his vehicle. The attack occurred at 1:00 PM on Sunday, July 7, 2024, between Buulo Nagad and Ceel Wareego in Lower Shabelle, Somalia. Several UPDF soldiers were injured in the attack, and they were airlifted to a Level II hospital in Mogadishu.

Maj Awany belonged to the Motorised Infantry Brigade of the UPDF. The convoy he was leading was transporting logistics when it was attacked.

Richard Todwong took to social media platform X to mourn his brother, praising his dedication and bravery. “I celebrate my brother, Maj. Opio Patrick Awany. Your dedication to protecting our country was your code and you approached your duty with unmatched passion,” Todwong wrote. “You bravely faced countless battles in the Central African Republic, Eastern DRC Congo, and Somalia. Your life was tragically cut short this morning, 7/7/2024, as you served our continent Africa. May your legacy endure to inspire more heroes. We will forever hold you in our hearts, Patrick. You were a true patriot.”

This incident highlights the ongoing security challenges in Somalia, especially in Lower Shabelle, as African Union forces continue their withdrawal. In June 2024, the African Union Transition Mission (ATMIS) handed over the Bariire Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Lower Shabelle to the Somali National Army (SNA), marking the third phase of troop drawdown. Since 2019, this area had been a strategic buffer zone approximately 60 km west of the capital, Mogadishu.

Al Shabaab remains a significant threat in the region. In June 2023, the group killed 54 Ugandan soldiers at a Forward Operating Base in Buulo Mareer, Lower Shabelle. The phased withdrawal of African Union forces has seen a reduction of 4,000 troops by the end of June 2024, following two earlier phases that reduced the number of AU troops by 5,000 and handed over 17 Forward Operating Bases.

Uganda was the first East African country to deploy troops under AMISOM into Somalia in March 2007 and has since contributed a significant portion of the African Union force supporting Somalia’s UN-backed government. Mohamed El-Amine Souef, the special representative of the chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, recently reported that since 2007, the mission has documented approximately 4,000 casualties, with Uganda and Burundi losing more soldiers than any other troop-contributing countries.

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