The Uganda Peopleâ€™s Defence Forcesâ€”UPDF has denied reports that it has deployed its elite commando units in Kenya to support allied forces in dislodging the Al Shabaab militants from Westgate Shopping Mall.
Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, the army spokesperson says that reports on social media that it deployed its forces in the Kenya rescue mission are outrageous and baseless.
Armed fighters believed to be from the Somali-based al Shabaab stormed the shopping mall in Nairobi on Saturday and held shoppers hostage. In the ensuing gunfire, at least 62 people were killed and 175 others injured. Over the next three days, the Kenyan security forces were fighting the terrorists who were still holding some people hostage inside the building.
Uganda has since condemned the attack as cowardly and expressed readiness to support Kenya in bringing the siege to an end. Israel, UK and US military personnel are reportedly at the Mall supporting the Kenyan forces to rescue hostages.
The Kenya Interior Minister, Joseph Ole Lenku said on Tuesday that it was unlikely that any more hostages were being held in the mall after an operation on Monday left at least six suspected terrorists dead.
On Monday, there were reports that the UPDF had sent commandos to Kenya to join the operation. But Ankunda explains that it is not possible for such deployment across borders without the approval from Parliament.
Lt Col. Ankunda told URN on Tuesday that the army has however tightened security at all major installations in the country. He says the Al Shabaab has hit Uganda before and that the army cannot take any chances. A July 2010 attack in Kampala left at least 80 people dead.
Ankunda also urged the public to remain vigilant and report all suspicious persons or objects to the nearest police stations.
The Ministry said on Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday: "Our forces are combing the mall floor by floor looking for anyone left behind. We believe all hostages have been released."