Bujumbura: At least 43 Burundian soldiers
have been killed and 110 have been wounded since the start of
a Somali government-African Union offencive against insurgents
on February 23, military sources said.
"The official toll given so far is totally false," a
military source in Mogadishu who requested anonymity said to a news agency.
"In reality, 43 soldiers of the Burundi contingent ...
have been killed, another four are missing and 110 were
wounded during the last joint offencive ... in Mogadishu."
A senior military officer in the Burundi capital
Bujumbura confirmed the toll.
"The majority of these soldiers were killed on the
first day of the offensive," he said. "They came upon many
insurgents at a major target located near the former defence
ministry which we conquered."
He added: "The troops` morale is good despite these
losses which are the worst since we have been deployed in
Somalia, because we achieved our goals."
No Burundian army official was available for comment
today, but on February 24 the army said only six soldiers of
the AU force AMISOM were killed on the first day of the
offencive against the al Qaeda-inspired insurgency.
According to witnesses and officials, more than 50
people, most of them combattants, were killed in the offencive
and dozens were wounded.
The Somali government and AMISOM said they had taken
several key positions from the Shehab insurgents in the
southwest of the capital including the former defence ministry
and a disused dairy factory.
Burundi sent an extra battalion to Somalia in late
November, bringing its contingent to some 3,500 soldiers and
the overall AMISOM force to more than 8,000.
The 4,500 other AMISOM soldiers are from Uganda.