Uganda–Tanzania War

The Uganda–Tanzania War, known in Tanzania as the Kagera War (Kiswahili: Vita vya Kagera) and in Uganda as the 1979 Liberation War, was fought between Uganda and Tanzania from October 1978 until June 1979, and led to the overthrow of Idi Amin's regime.[9] Idi Amin's forces included thousands of troops sent by Libya.


Deterioration of Ugandan–Tanzanian relations

Uganda (red) and Tanzania (blue) in Africa

In 1971 Colonel Idi Amin launched a military coup that overthrew the President of Uganda, Milton Obote, precipitating a deterioration of relations with neighbouring Tanzania.[10] Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere had close ties with Obote and had supported his socialist orientation.[11] Amin installed himself as President of Uganda and ruled the country under a repressive dictatorship.[10] Nyerere withheld diplomatic recognition of the new government and offered asylum to Obote and his supporters.[11] As Amin launched a massive purge of his enemies in Uganda that saw 30,000 to 50,000 Ugandans killed, Obote was soon joined by thousands of other dissidents and opposition figures. With the approval of Nyerere, these Ugandan exiles organised a small army of guerillas, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to invade Uganda and remove Amin in 1972. Amin blamed Nyerere for backing and arming his enemies,[12] and retaliated by bombing Tanzanian border towns. Though his commanders urged him to respond in kind, Nyerere agreed to mediation overseen by the President of Somalia, Siad Barre, which resulted in the signing of the Mogadishu Agreement, which stipulated that Ugandan and Tanzanian forces had to withdraw to positions at least 10 kilometres away from the border and refrain from supporting opposition forces that targeted each other's governments.[11]

Nevertheless, relations between the two presidents remained tense; Nyerere frequently denounced Amin's regime, and Amin made repeated threats to invade Tanzania. During the same time, relations between Tanzania and Kenya grew sour, and the East African Community subsequently collapsed.[11] Uganda also disputed its border with Tanzania, claiming that the Kagera Salient—a 720 square mile stretch of land between the official border and the Kagera River 18 miles to the south, should be placed under its jurisdiction, maintaining that the river made for a more logical border. The border had originally been negotiated by British and German colonial officials before World War I.[13]

Instability in Uganda

Meanwhile, in Uganda, Amin announced an "Economic War" in which thousands of Asian immigrants were expelled from the country and their businesses placed under the management of Africans. The reform had disastrous consequences for the economy, which were further exacerbated by a United States boycott of Ugandan coffee on account of the government's failure to respect human rights.[11] At the same time, Amin expanded the power of the armed forces in his government, placing many soldiers in his cabinet and providing those loyal to him with patronage. Most of the beneficiaries of his actions were Muslim northerners, particularly those of Nubian and Sudanese extract, who were increasingly recruited into the army.[14] Amin violently purged southern ethnic groups from the armed forces and executed political opponents.[15] In the following years, he survived several assassination attempts, resulting in him becoming increasingly distrustful and repeatedly purging the senior ranks of the Ugandan military.[12] His base of power in the military declined with the worsening economic situation, which deprived him of resources for patronage.[15]

The situation in Uganda became even more volatile in 1978; dissident troops ambushed Amin at the presidential lodge in Kampala in early October 1978, but he escaped with his family in a helicopter.[16] The dissidents were believed to be linked to Obote, and supported by Tanzania.[17] This was during a period when the number of Amin's close associates had shrunk significantly, and he faced increasing dissent from within Uganda.[9] When General Mustafa Adrisi, Amin's Vice President, was injured in a suspicious car accident,[17] troops loyal to Adrisi (and other soldiers who were disgruntled for other reasons) mutinied.[9] Amin sent troops against the mutineers (which included members of the elite Simba Battalion), some of whom had fled across the Tanzanian border. The rebellion spilled over into Tanzania, where Tanzania-based anti-Amin exiles joined the fighting against Amin's troops. Meanwhile, there circulated rumours about an impending Tanzanian invasion.[18][19][20] War between the two countries seemed likely, and Amin himself believed that he could possibly use such a conflict to distract the Ugandan people from the worsening political and economic situation at home.[9]

The war

Outbreak of the conflict

As tensions with Tanzania increased, a number of Amin's high-ranking military commanders began to advocate war with the neighboring state. They were opposed by other Ugandan generals who argued that Uganda Army (UA) was not ready for an open conflict. Though desiring to annex part of Tanzania for some time, President Amin initially sided with the more cautious commanders.[21][18] The situation changed on 9 October 1978.[22] What exactly happened on that day remains disputed, and several different versions of the events exist.

According to reporters Avirgan and Honey, as well the Drum magazine, Ugandan troops made their first incursion into Tanzania when a motorised detachment moved into Kakunyu and set two houses on fire in the middle of the day. A Tanzanian observation post witnessed the event, and Tanzanian artillery retaliated. A Ugandan armoured personnel carrier and truck were destroyed, and two soldiers were killed. Ugandan artillery returned fire but caused no damage. In the evening Radio Uganda reported that a Tanzanian invasion had been repulsed.[23][24] In contrast, others have claimed that a lone Ugandan soldier crossed into Tanzania and got involved in an altercation with local border guards on 9 October. According to one version of the story, told by Ugandan commander Abdu Kisuule, the soldier was the brother-in-law of Lieutenant Colonel Juma Butabika, one of the main proponents of war, and had been sent to kidnap a Tanzanian soldier. He was killed in a firefight with the border guards, however, whereupon Butabika sought revenge.[21] Uganda Air Force pilot David Omita stated, however, that the Ugandan soldier in question was unrelated to Butabika and had crossed the border to visit his lover. He then got "roughed up" by Tanzanian soldiers in a bar fight, and sought revenge by lying to his superior, claiming that he had been kidnapped by Tanzanian troops.[22]

In either case, the events along the border served as an excuse for the pro-war faction in the Uganda Army to act. Without asking President Amin for authorization, Butabika ordered an invasion of Tanzania on 30 October, ostensibly in response to Tanzanian aggression.[18][19][21][22]

Course of the war

Butabika's forces easily overran the Tanzanian troops stationed at Mutukula and Minziro, whereupon he telephoned Amin, claiming that Tanzania had launched an attack and that he had responded with a counter-attack. The president opted to allow the invasion to proceed. Reinforced by other Uganda Army detachments, Butabika subsequently occupied the entire Kagera salient (northern Kagera Region) until stopping at Kyaka Bridge, which was destroyed. The UA troops proceeded to celebrate while looting, raping and murdering in the occupied area. Meanwhile, Amin declared the annexation of Kagera.[21][22][19]

Nyerere mobilized the Tanzania People's Defence Force and counterattacked. In a few weeks, the Tanzanian army was expanded from less than 40,000 troops to over 150,000, including about 40,000 militiamen,[5] and smaller numbers of members of the police, prison services, and the national service. The Tanzanians were joined by several anti-Amin groups consisting of Ugandan exiles, who at a conference in Moshi (Moshi Conference) had united as the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). These included Kikosi Maalum commanded by Tito Okello and David Oyite Ojok, FRONASA commanded by Yoweri Museveni, and Save Uganda Movement commanded by Akena p'Ojok, William Omaria, and Ateker Ejalu.

Libyan troop movements in Uganda, 1979
Libyan troop movements before and after the Battle of Lukaya

The Tanzanian Army acquired Soviet BM Katyusha rocket launchers (known in Uganda as saba saba), with which they started to fire on targets in Uganda.[25] The effect of powerful weapons like the Katyusha robbed the Ugandan forces of the initiative they had gained from the invasion, which had taken the Tanzanians by surprise as the country was totally unprepared to defend against an invasion. Furthermore, the use of multiple rocket launchers and other heavy weapons enabled the Tanzanian forces to make the Ugandan Army retreat steadily as it could not face up to the stronger and numerically superior Tanzanian Army that was now on the offensive against the demoralised Ugandan soldiers. Libya's president Muammar Gaddafi sent a Libyan expeditionary force of 2,500 troops to aid the Ugandan dictator Amin. The Libyan expeditionary force was equipped with T-54 and T-55 tanks, BTR APCs, BM-21 Grad MRLs, artillery, MiG-21s fighters, and one Tu-22 bomber.[26] The Libyan force was designed to primarily act as a supporting force for the Uganda Army, and if necessary aid them in battle against the Tanzanians. However, soon after the force arrived in Uganda, the Libyan soldiers found themselves fighting the Tanzanians on the front line. Meanwhile, while the Libyans were fighting and dying in the fight to protect their ally's country, many of the Uganda Army's units were using their own supply trucks to carry their newly acquired wealth taken from Tanzania back away from the front line.[27] The Libyans were flown into Entebbe starting in mid-February, though in early March the Libyan government officially repudiated an accusation from the United States that its forces were being sent to Uganda.[28]

The Libyan troops were a mix of regular Libyan Army units, People's Militia, and sub-Saharan Africans of the Islamic Legion, a further force created by Libya for this type of expeditionary mission.[26] The Tanzanians, joined by UNLA dissidents, moved north for Kampala but halted at the vast deep-water swamp north of Lukaya. The Tanzanians decided to send the 201st Brigade directly across the causeway over the swamp while the better-quality 208th Brigade skirted the western edge of the swamp as an alternative in case the causeway was blocked or destroyed.

Between 10–12 March the Battle of Lukaya occurred between the Tanzanian Army and the Libyan Army alongside some Ugandan units. The battle started when a planned attack by a brigade-sized Libyan formation with fifteen T-55s, a dozen APCs, and BM-21 MRLs, intended to reach Masaka, instead collided with the Tanzanian force at Lukaya on 10 March and sent the 201st Brigade reeling backwards in disarray. However, a Tanzanian counter-attack on the night of 11 March from two directions, involving a reorganised 201st Brigade attacking from the south and the 208th Brigade from the north-west, was successful, with many Libyan units, including the militia, breaking and running away. Libyan casualties were reported at 200 plus another 200 allied Ugandans.[29]

Fall of Kampala and end of the war

Tanzanian and UNLA forces met little resistance after the Battle of Lukaya and carried on east toward Kampala, first taking the Entebbe airfield after some fighting, and then taking Kampala on 11 April 1979. Few Ugandan or Libyan units gave much resistance; the greatest problem for the Tanzanian troops was lack of maps of the city.[26] Amin fled, first to Libya and later to Saudi Arabia. The Libyan forces retreated to Jinja and then were repatriated finally through Kenya and Ethiopia. Despite the flight of Amin and the fall of the capital, however, scattered and disjointed remnants of the Ugandan military continued to offer resistance.[30] Nevertheless, after Kampala's capture, little further damage was caused by the fighting.[31] Most units of the Uganda Army mutinied or dispersed, allowing the Tanzanian-UNLF troops to occupy most of eastern and northern Ugandan without opposition.[32] Attempts by Amin's loyalists to block the Tanzanian northward advance were defeated during the Battle of Bombo,[33] the Battle of Lira, and the Battle of Karuma Falls.[34][35]

The last battle of the war occurred on 27 May when a band of Ugandan troops fired on elements of the TPDF's Task Force near Bondo before fleeing.[36] The Task Force shortly thereafter seized Arua without facing resistance.[37] Several high-ranking Uganda Army officers and officials in Amin's government who surrendered in Arua told the Tanzanians that after the fall of Kampala thousands of Ugandan soldiers had fled to Sudan and Zaire with the stated goal of launching an insurgency and retaking Uganda.[38] From Arua a Tanzanian brigade advanced to Uganda's western border with Sudan and Zaire. It secured the Sudanese frontier on 3 June 1979, thus ending the war.[39]



The movement of armed forces throughout Uganda in 1979 disrupted the planting season, leading to inflated prices for staple crops such as bananas, sweet potatoes, and cassava, and causing famine in some regions.[40] Despite this disruption, rural areas were mostly physically undisturbed by the fighting, which was concentrated in other areas.[31] An estimated minimum of 100,000 Ugandans were made homeless by the conflict.[41] The war with Tanzania caused great economic damage to Uganda, but was only the start of a period of even greater unrest. With Amin ousted, different groups of political and ethnic rivals started to compete and fight for power.[9]

The Tanzanian army remained in Uganda to maintain peace while the UNLF (the political wing of the UNLA) organized elections to return the country to civilian rule.[42] Meanwhile, remnants of Amin's Uganda Army reorganised in Zaire and Sudan, and would invade Uganda in autumn 1980, starting a civil war which became later known as the Ugandan Bush War.[42] Yusuf Lule was installed as president by Tanzania. In June 1979, following a dispute over the extent of presidential powers, the National Consultative Commission (NCC), which was then the supreme governing body of the UNLF, replaced Lule with Godfrey Binaisa. Binaisa was himself removed on 12 May 1980 by the Military Commission, a powerful organ of the UNLF headed by Paulo Muwanga and his deputy Yoweri Museveni (then leader of the Uganda Patriotic Movement). A Presidential Commission with three members, Saulo Musoke, Polycarp Nyamuchoncho, and Joel Hunter Wacha-Olwol were then appointed to lead the country. They governed Uganda until the December 1980 general elections, which were won by Milton Obote's Uganda Peoples Congress. The elections were bitterly disputed. Yoweri Museveni alleged electoral fraud and declared an armed rebellion against Obote's government. As result, the Ugandan Bush War spread into the country's south as well.

The last Tanzanian troops left Uganda in October 1981.[43] Tanzanian military advisers remained in the country as late as 1984.[44]


By August 1979 over 40,000 residents of Kagera that had fled from the Ugandan invasion had returned to their homes.[45] Nyerere toured Tabora, Arusha, Mtwara, Bukoba, Mwanza, Tanga, Zanzibar, Iringa, Dodoma, Dar es Salaam, and Mara to thank the Tanzanian population for its contributions to the war effort.[46]

The outbreak of the war came at a time when Tanzania's economy was showing signs of recovery from a severe drought in 1974–1975. All planned government projects were suspended in every ministry except Defence, and the administration was instructed not to fill vacancies. Nyerere stated in January 1979 that the TPDF operation to expel the Ugandans had necessitated a "tremendous" diversion of the country's resources away from development work, and he estimated that the war took $1,000,000 a day to finance.[47] Tanzania received no help from other countries in the Organization of African Unity, which had denounced what was seen as an aggression by Tanzania (and its role as a backer of the 1977 coup in the Seychelles which brought France-Albert René to power) as a breach of national sovereignty. As a result, the government in Dar es Salaam had to foot the bill for the invasion and subsequent peacekeeping role from its own funds, further driving the country into poverty; Tanzania would not fully recover from the cost of the war until Uganda paid its debt back to Tanzania in 2007.[48]


The 435 Tanzanian soldiers that died during the war were buried at the Kaboya Military Cemetery in Muleba District, Kagera Region. A white monument was erected in the cemetery and adorned with the names of the dead.[49] Nyerere, Tanzanian Vice President Aboud Jumbe, Prime Minister Edward Sokoine, Chief of Defence Forces Abdallah Twalipo, and Chama Cha Mapinduzi Executive Secretary Pius Msekwa visited the monument on 26 July 1979 to pay their respects to the dead soldiers.[50] Another monument was built in Arusha, displaying a statue of a soldier celebrating victory.[51] On 1 September a series of national ceremonies were held to honour public contribution to the war effort.[52] On 25 July 2014 Tanzania observed the 36th anniversary of the war and recognised the soldiers and civilians that died in the conflict.[53]

On the fifth anniversary of the fall of Kampala, Obote delivered a speech to commemorate the liberation of Uganda from the Amin regime.[54] In 2002 Uganda held its first official celebration of Amin's overthrow.[55] In the 2000s the Ugandan Government established the Kagera Medal to be awarded to Ugandan rebels or foreigners who fought against Amin's regime between 1971 and 1979.[56]

Historiography and documentation

Historians have paid little attention to the war,[57] and few books have been written about it.[58] Tanzanian journalist Baldwin Mzirai published Kuzama kwa Idi Amin in 1980, which details the Tanzanian and Ugandan rebel military operations of the conflict.[59] American journalists Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey published War in Uganda: The legacy of Idi Amin in 1983. They followed Tanzanian forces into Uganda and witnessed the battles for Entebbe and Kampala. The 11-chapter work, in addition to covering the conflict, discusses some of its political implications in Uganda.[58] Henry R. Muhanika published an Utenzi poetic account of the war in 1981, Utenzi wa vita vya Kagera na anguko la Idi Amin Dada.[60] In 1980 the state-owned Tanzania Film Company and the Audio Visual Institute released a colour documentary chronicling the conflict, entitled, Vita vya Kagera. It emphasized the "bravery and determination" of the Tanzanian forces.[61] The war is known in Tanzania as the Kagera War and in Uganda as the 1979 Liberation War.[62]

See also


  1. ^ Sources differ on Gore's fate, with Ugandan Colonel Rwehururu stating that he fled to Sudan,[6] while another Ugandan soldier claimed that he was killed in an ambush during the Uganda–Tanzania War.[7]


  1. ^ Uganda: A country study (PDF). Library of Congress. December 1990. p. 204. By mid-March 1979, about 2,000 Libyan troops and several hundred Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters had joined in the fight to save Amin's regime
  2. ^ a b c d e Acheson-Brown, Daniel G. (2001). "The Tanzanian Invasion of Uganda: A Just War?" (PDF). International Third World Studies Journal and Review. 12: 1–11. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Brzoska & Pearson 1994, p. 210.
  4. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), p. 19.
  5. ^ a b c Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), p. 27.
  6. ^ Rwehururu 2002, p. 73.
  7. ^ Seftel 2010, p. 231.
  8. ^ Foreigners Aided Amin, Washington Post, May 8, 1979.
  9. ^ a b c d e Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), p. 7.
  10. ^ a b Honey, Martha (12 April 1979). "Ugandan Capital Captured". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e Roberts 2017, p. 155.
  12. ^ a b Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), pp. 6–7.
  13. ^ Darnton, John (7 November 1978). "Mediation is Begun in Tanzanian War". The New York Times. p. 5. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  14. ^ Roberts 2017, pp. 155–156.
  15. ^ a b Roberts 2017, p. 156.
  16. ^ "An Idi-otic Invasion", TIME magazine, 13 Nov. 1978.
  17. ^ a b Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), p. 22.
  18. ^ a b c "Lies drove Amin to strike Tanzania". Daily Monitor. 25 November 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  19. ^ a b c Mwakikagile (2010), p. 319.
  20. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), p. 23.
  21. ^ a b c d Henry Lubega (30 May 2014). "Amin's former top soldier reveals why TPDF won". The Citizen. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  22. ^ a b c d "Pilot Omita parachutes out of burning MiG-21". Daily Monitor. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  23. ^ Avirgan & Honey 1983, p. 54.
  24. ^ Seftel 2010, pp. 220, 222–224.
  25. ^ "Fighting for Amin". The East African. 8 April 2002. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  26. ^ a b c Pollack, Kenneth M (2002). Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness 1948–91. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 369–373. ISBN 0-8032-3733-2.
  27. ^ "Armed Conflicts Event Data: Tanzanian-Ugandan War 1978-1979". 16 December 2000. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  28. ^ Legum 1980, p. B 432.
  29. ^ "How Mbarara, Kampala fell to Tanzanian army". Daily Monitor. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  30. ^ Roberts 2017, p. 163.
  31. ^ a b Posnett 1980, p. 148.
  32. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), pp. 37, 62.
  33. ^ Avirgan & Honey 1983, p. 180.
  34. ^ Associated Press (17 May 1979). "Ugandan Forces Seize Bridge Near Last Amin Strongholds". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  35. ^ Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), p. 37, 39.
  36. ^ Mzirai 1980, pp. 119–120.
  37. ^ Avirgan & Honey 1983, pp. 192–193.
  38. ^ Avirgan & Honey 1983, pp. 194–195.
  39. ^ Avirgan & Honey 1983, pp. 195–196.
  40. ^ Southall 1980, pp. 629–630.
  41. ^ Southall 1980, p. 630.
  42. ^ a b Cooper & Fontanellaz (2015), p. 39.
  43. ^ Avirgan, Tony (3 May 1982). "Amin's army finally defeated". United Press International. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  44. ^ Kasozi 1994, p. 129.
  45. ^ Mmbando 1980, p. 134.
  46. ^ Mmbando 1980, p. 135.
  47. ^ Ottaway, David B. (16 January 1979). "Tanzanian Economy Hurt By Conflict With Uganda". The Washington Post (final ed.). p. A14.
  48. ^ Atuhaire, Alex B. (11 April 2007). "Uganda: Country Pays Tanzania Shs120 Billion Amin War Debt". Retrieved 8 December 2013.(subscription required)
  49. ^ Mmbando 1980, p. 137.
  50. ^ Mmbando 1980, pp. 138–140.
  51. ^ Mmbando 1980, p. 144.
  52. ^ Konde 1984, p. 221.
  53. ^ Mulisa, Meddy (1 August 2014). "Tanzania: Remembering Kagera War, 36 Years After". Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  54. ^ "Ugandan President's Liberation Anniversary Speeches: Comments on Opposition Kampala". Summary of World Broadcasts: Non-Arab Africa (7618). BBC Monitoring. 14 April 1984.
  55. ^ Wasswa, Henry (17 August 2003). "Ex-Uganda dictator Idi Amin dies". Deseret News. Associated Press. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  56. ^ Musinguzi, John (24 February 2013). "Understanding Museveni's medals". The Observer. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  57. ^ Roberts 2017, p. 154.
  58. ^ a b Lugeba, Henry (24 April 2017). "War in Uganda: Coverage of the 1979 liberation war". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  59. ^ Accessions List, Eastern Africa 1982, p. 69.
  60. ^ Harneit-Sievers 2002, p. 276.
  61. ^ Fair 2018, Chapter 4 : Global Films and Local Reception.
  62. ^ Lubega, Henry (26 April 2014). "Revisiting the Tanzania-Uganda war that toppled Amin". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 7 February 2019.

Works cited

Further reading

Abdulatif Tiyua

Abdulatif Tiyua is an Ugandan retired military officer and former rebel leader. He served as a Uganda Army (UA) commander during the dictatorship of Idi Amin. When Amin was overthrown in 1979 during the Uganda–Tanzania War, Tiyua was imprisoned by the new Ugandan government. He was freed in 1985, when Tito Okello overthrew Ugandan President Milton Obote. When Okello in turn was defeated by Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army, Tiyua joined an insurgency in northern Uganda, and eventually rose to deputy commander of the West Nile Bank Front rebel group. Following years of warfare, Tiyua was captured by rebels allied to the Ugandan government in southern Sudan in 1997, and was again incarcerated. After being released in 2000, he became chairman of a veterans association and has lobbied for his former rebel comrades to end their insurgency.

Battle of Bombo

During the Uganda–Tanzania War, the Battle of Bombo was fought in April 1979 at the town of Bombo, Uganda, between Tanzanian forces and Ugandan troops loyal to Idi Amin. After cutting the road between Kampala and Bombo, the Tanzanian 201st Brigade led by Imran Kombe was ordered to head north and seize Bombo. The town was mostly defended by retired Nubian officers of the Uganda Army. The Tanzanians attacked cautiously, and under heavy fire were able to proceed into the town and secure it.

Battle of Bondo

During the Uganda–Tanzania War, the Battle of Bondo was fought on 27 May 1979 near the town of Bondo, Uganda, between Tanzanian forces and Ugandan troops loyal to Idi Amin. A band of Uganda Army soldiers opened fire on the Tanzanian Minziro Brigade as it advanced towards Arua, before fleeing in the face of a Tanzanian charge. Several Tanzanians were killed and wounded by their own artillery. It was the last battle of the war. Arua fell without resistance shortly thereafter.

Battle of Entebbe

The Battle of Entebbe was a battle of the Uganda–Tanzania War that took place on 7 April 1979 on the Entebbe peninsula in Uganda between Tanzanian units and Ugandan and Libyan units. The Tanzanians occupied the area, killed hundreds of Libyans, and ended the Libyan airlift in support of the Ugandan Government.

Idi Amin had seized power in Uganda in 1971 and established a brutal dictatorship. Seven years later he attempted to invade neighbouring Tanzania to the south. The attack was repulsed, and Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere ordered a counter-attack into Ugandan territory. As Tanzanian forces advanced deeper into the country, Libya sent its own troops to support the Ugandans, flying them in to the airport at Entebbe. From their position in Mpigi the Tanzanians could see the Libyan air traffic, so they decided to attack the location to stop the airlift and eliminate a potential flank attack when they assaulted Kampala.

Tanzanian forces conducted a light three-day bombardment of the Entebbe peninsula, driving away Amin from his presidential residence and instigating the retreat of many Ugandan forces. On the morning of 7 April the Tanzanian 208th Brigade attacked the peninsula. After one of their aircraft was blown up, the Libyans attempted to evacuate via road to Kampala. Many of their units were intercepted and destroyed, while most Ugandan soldiers surrendered. There was little fighting within the town of Entebbe, and the peninsula was secured by the Tanzanians in the late afternoon. Over 300 Libyan soldiers were killed, and at least 200 Ugandan Air Force personnel were captured. The Tanzanians also seized a large amount of Libyan heavy equipment and several Ugandan Air Force jets.

Tanzanian forces moved their headquarters to Entebbe and prepared for their attack on Kampala, while local civilians looted abandoned properties. Nyerere ordered his forces to leave an eastern corridor from the capital open, so the remaining Libyan units in the country could escape, thus sparing Libya international embarrassment and avoiding the incitement of Afro-Arab tensions. The Tanzanians advanced into Kampala on 10 April, with the 208th Brigade attacking from Entebbe. The city was taken with minimal resistance, with most of the Libyans having evacuated.

Battle of Jinja

The Battle of Jinja was a battle of the Uganda–Tanzania War that took place on 22 April 1979 near and in the city of Jinja, Uganda between Tanzanian and allied Uganda National Liberation Front forces, and Ugandan troops loyal to Idi Amin. The Tanzanians and the UNLF men met slight resistance and captured Owen Falls Dam and the town of Jinja.

Idi Amin had seized power in Uganda in 1971 and established a brutal dictatorship. Seven years later he attempted to invade neighbouring Tanzania to the south. The attack was repulsed, and the Tanzanians launched a counter-attack into Ugandan territory. After a number of battles, Amin's regime and military largely collapsed, and Kampala, the capital, was seized by the Tanzanians and the UNLF. Ugandan troops fled to the eastern city of Jinja, whose capture was entrusted to a force consisting of the Tanzanian 208th Brigade and members of the UNLF.

The Tanzanian-UNLF force moved east out from Kampala on 15 April. Early in the morning on 22 April the Tanzanians bombarded Jinja with artillery, and under the cover of darkness advanced towards the two bridges that crossed the Nile river west of the city. The column eliminated the resistance along the river and seized the Owen Falls Dam, which provided hydroelectric power to the entirety of Uganda. It entered Jinja largely unopposed and was met by cheering crowds, though sweeps through the city led to the capture of a few straggling Ugandan soldiers.

Battle of Karuma Falls

The Battle of Karuma Falls was one of the last battles in the Uganda–Tanzania War, fought between Tanzania and Uganda Army troops loyal to Idi Amin on 17 May 1979. Soldiers of the Tanzania People's Defence Force attacked Ugandan forces at the bridge over the Nile River at Karuma Falls. Tanzania's 205th Brigade was tasked with advancing from Masindi to Gulu, taking a route which passed over the Karuma Falls Bridge. The brigade assaulted the crossing on the morning of 17 May with tanks and artillery and one of its battalions ran over the bridge to attack the Ugandan positions. The Ugandans destroyed a TPDF tank, delaying the Tanzanians long enough to board buses and retreat to Gulu. The Tanzanians secured Karuma Falls before capturing Gulu several days later.

Battle of Lira

The Battle of Lira was one of the last battles in the Uganda–Tanzania War, fought between Tanzania and its Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) allies, and Uganda Army troops loyal to Idi Amin on 15 May 1979. The Tanzanian-led forces easily routed Lira's garrison of Amin loyalists, and then intercepted and destroyed one retreating column of Uganda Army soldiers near the town.

Idi Amin had seized power in Uganda in 1971 and established a brutal dictatorship. Seven years later he attempted to invade neighbouring Tanzania to the south. The attack was repulsed, and the Tanzanians launched a counter-attack into Ugandan territory. After a number of battles, Amin's regime and military largely collapsed, whereupon Tanzania and its Ugandan allies of the UNLF began to mop up the last pro-Amin holdouts in Uganda's east and north. One of these was the town of Lira, whose capture was entrusted to a force consisting of the Tanzanian 201st Brigade and the UNLF's Kikosi Maalum force.

While approaching Lira, the Tanzanian-UNLF force divided into two groups, with the main force attacking the town from the south. The other force was ordered to set up an ambush along the western approach in order to destroy Uganda Army troops who attempted to flee the town. The Tanzanian-led troops began their assault on Lira on 15 May 1979, and the garrison began to retreat. One column of retreating soldiers ran into the advancing Tanzanian-UNLF troops west of the town, and was almost completely destroyed. Lira was consequently occupied by the Tanzanians and UNLF fighters without further resistance.

Battle of Lukaya

The Battle of Lukaya was a battle of the Uganda–Tanzania War. It was fought between 10 and 11 March 1979 around Lukaya, Uganda, between Tanzanian forces (supported by Ugandan rebels) and Ugandan government forces (supported by Libyan and Palestinian troops). After briefly occupying the town, Tanzanian troops and Ugandan rebels retreated under artillery fire. The Tanzanians subsequently launched a counterattack, retaking Lukaya and killing hundreds of Libyans and Ugandans.

President Idi Amin of Uganda attempted to invade neighbouring Tanzania to the south in 1978. The attack was repulsed, and Tanzania launched a counterattack into Ugandan territory. In February 1979 the Tanzania People's Defence Force (TPDF) seized Masaka. The TPDF's 201st Brigade was then instructed to secure Lukaya and its causeway to the north, which served as the only direct route through a large swamp to Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Meanwhile, Amin ordered his forces to recapture Masaka, and a force was assembled for the purpose consisting of Ugandan troops, allied Libyan soldiers, and a handful of Palestine Liberation Organisation guerrillas, led by Lieutenant Colonel Godwin Sule.

On the morning of 10 March the TPDF's 201st Brigade under Brigadier Imran Kombe, bolstered by a battalion of Ugandan rebels, occupied Lukaya without incident. In the late afternoon the Libyans attacked the town with rockets, and the unit broke and fled into the nearby swamp. Tanzanian commanders ordered the 208th Brigade to march to the Kampala road to flank the Ugandan-Libyan force. At dawn on 11 March the 208th Brigade reached its target position and the Tanzanian counterattack began. The regrouped 201st Brigade assaulted the Libyans and Ugandans from the front and the 208th from their rear. Sule was killed, precipitating the collapse of the Ugandan defences, while the Libyans retreated. Hundreds of Ugandan government and Libyan troops were killed. The Battle of Lukaya was the largest engagement of the war. Amin's forces were adversely affected by the outcome, and Ugandan resistance crumbled in its wake. The TPDF was able to proceed up the road and later attack Kampala.

Battle of Mutukula

The Battle of Mutukula took place from 21–22 January 1979 near and in the town of Mutukula, Uganda, during the Uganda–Tanzania War. After repulsing a Ugandan invasion of the Kagera Salient in 1978, Tanzanian commanders feared that Ugandan forces stationed upon the high ground in Mutukula, a town located along the Tanzania–Uganda border, still posed a threat to their territory. On the night of 21 January 1979 the Tanzanian 208th Brigade crossed the border and surrounded the town. The following morning it attacked, and the Ugandan garrison—including the Gonda and Suicide Battalions—fled. Afterwards the Tanzanians razed the locale in revenge for the damage wrought by the Ugandans in Kagera.

Battle of Tororo

The Battle of Tororo was a battle of the Uganda–Tanzania War that took place from 2 to 4 March 1979 at Tororo, Uganda and its surroundings. It was fought between Ugandan rebels loyal to Milton Obote and Uganda Army units loyal to President Idi Amin. In an attempt to destabilise Amin's rule and capture weapons for an insurrection, a group of guerrillas launched a raid from Kenya against Tororo, whose garrison partially mutinied and joined them after a short fight. Loyalist Ugandan military forces, most importantly its air force, launched a large-scale counter-attack and completely defeated the rebels after heavy fighting.

Christopher Israel Umba Gore

Christopher Israel Umba Gore, also known as Gadwin Gore, was an Ugandan military officer who served as head of the Ugandan Air Force during the last stages of President Idi Amin's dictatorship.

David Musuguri

David Bugozi Musuguri or David Msuguri (born 4 January 1923) is a Tanzanian soldier and retired military officer who served as Chief of the Tanzania People's Defence Force from 1980 until 1988.

History of Uganda (1971–79)

The history of Uganda between 1971 and 1979 comprises the history of Uganda during Idi Amin's military dictatorship over Uganda.

The Ugandan economy was devastated by Idi Amin's policies, including the expulsion of Asians, the nationalisation of businesses and industry, and the expansion of the public sector. The real value of salaries and wages collapsed by 90% in less than a decade. The number of people killed as a result of his regime is unknown; estimates from international observers and human rights groups range from 100,000 to 500,000.

Juma Butabika

Juma Ali Oka Rokoni, commonly referred to as Juma Butabika, (died 11 April 1979) was an Ugandan military officer who served as Uganda Army (UA) top commander during the dictatorship of Idi Amin. Despite being notorious for his erratic behavior and abuse of power, he was highly influential, held important army commands, and served as long-time chairman of the Ugandan Military Tribunal, a military court used by Amin to try and eliminate political dissidents and rivals. By commanding an unauthorized attack on Tanzania in October 1978, Butabika was responsible for the outbreak of the Uganda–Tanzania War which ultimately resulted in his death in combat, probably during the Fall of Kampala.

Kagera (region)

Kagera is one of Tanzania's 31 administrative regions. The region is located in the northwestern corner of Tanzania on the western shore of Lake Victoria. The region neighbors Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and lies across the lake from Kenya. The region was known as West Lake before June 1979. The regional capital is the city of Bukoba. According to the 2012 national census, the region had a population of 2,458,023, which was lower than the pre-census projection of 2,763,329. For 2002-2012, the region's 3.2 percent average annual population growth rate was tied for the third highest in the country. It was also the ninth-most densely populated region, with 97 people per square kilometer.On September 10th 2016, the region was struck by an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the moment magnitude scale.

It was the biggest earthquake to have been recorded in Tanzania.Its attempted annexation by Uganda in 1978 triggered the Uganda–Tanzania War which culminated in the overthrow of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin on April 11, 1979, at the Fall of Kampala.

Tito Okello

Tito Lutwa Okello (1914 – 3 June 1996) was a Ugandan military officer and politician. He was the President of Uganda from 29 July 1985 until 26 January 1986.

Uganda National Liberation Front

The Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) was a political group formed by exiled Ugandans opposed to the rule of Idi Amin with an accompanying military wing, the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). UNLA fought alongside Tanzanian forces in the Uganda–Tanzania War that led to the overthrow of Idi Amin's regime. The group ruled Uganda from the overthrow of Amin in April 1979 until the disputed national elections in December 1980.

Ugandan Bush War

The Ugandan Bush War, also known as the Luwero War, the Ugandan Civil War or the Resistance War, was a civil war fought in Uganda between the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) and a number of rebel groups, most importantly the National Resistance Army (NRA), from 1980 to 1986.

The unpopular President Milton Obote was overthrown in a coup d'état in 1971 by General Idi Amin, who established a military dictatorship. Amin was overthrown in 1979 following the Uganda-Tanzania War, but his loyalists subsequently launched an insurgency in the West Nile sub-region. Subsequent elections saw Obote return to power in an UNLA-ruled government. Several opposition groups claimed the elections were rigged, and united as the NRA under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni to start an armed uprising against Obote's government on 6 February 1981. Obote was overthrown and replaced as President by his general Tito Okello in 1985 during the closing months of the conflict.

The war ended in victory for the NRA with hostilities officially ceasing on 25 January 1986, the establishment of a new government with Museveni as President, the UNLA and its political wing were dissolved, and sending Obote and Okello into exile.

Yusuf Gowon

Yusuf Gowon (born as Yusuf Mogi in 1936) is an Ugandan retired military officer who served as chief of staff for the Uganda Army during the dictatorship of Idi Amin. Originally a farmer, Gowon quickly rose in the ranks of the military due to a combination of politics and happenstance. Compared with other high-ranking officials of Amin's regime, he was regarded as humane; nevertheless, he was probably involved in some political murders. His appointment as chief of staff was mostly owed to the fact that he was regarded by President Amin as loyal, not ambitious, and of no threat to his own rule. Gowon's lack of talent for tactics and strategy came to the fore when the Uganda–Tanzania War broke out in 1978, and his leadership of the Uganda Army during this conflict was extensively criticised. Many of his comrades and subordinates even blamed him for Uganda's defeat in the conflict with Tanzania. When Amin's regime began collapsing in 1979 and his own soldiers intended to murder him, Gowon fled Uganda.

He subsequently settled in Zaire where he worked as businessman. Unlike many of his former comrades, Gowon did not join any insurgent group during his exile. When the new Ugandan government of Yoweri Museveni offered him to return to his home country in 1994, he accepted and founded a nonprofit organization to help ex-combatants to find civilian jobs. He also became head of a veterans association. In 2001, Gowon was arrested and tried for the suspected involvement in the murder of Eliphaz Laki during Amin's rule. The trial generated much publicity and was controversial, as some regarded it as important chance to finally address the crimes of Amin's dictatorship, while others claimed that it was politically motivated. Gowon denied any involvement in Laki's murder, and was acquitted due to missing evidence in 2003.

Uganda–Tanzania War
Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also

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