25 August 2010

Foreign Troop Numbers Boosted To Counter Somali Insurgency

The growing insurgency in Somalia has prompted Uganda and Burundi to send more combat troops to the troubled African nation.
Two African nations are sending fresh troops to Somalia, in an effort to turn the tide against an insurgency that poses a growing threat to the region.

The troop increases come a month after Somali militant group al Shabaab launched a bloody attack on the Ugandan capital, which the militants said was retaliation for Ugandan involvement in Mogadishu. The majority of African Union troops in Somalia—currently about 6,000—come from Uganda and Burundi.

On Monday, Wafula Wamunyinyi, deputy head of the African Union mission in Somalia, known as Amisom, said that Uganda had begun to send more troops to Mogadishu, and that the first group of new soldiers had arrived on Friday. Burundi also plans to send a battalion, he said, which is around 1,000 troops. Mr. Wamunyinyi declined to offer a total figure for the new troops, or their arrival dates, citing security reasons. But the African Union hopes to boost its forces by about 2,000 to fulfill the original mandate of 8,000 troops that was set when Amisom first deployed in 2007.

The move to bolster troop levels comes as the government appears to be under serious threat from the militants. On Monday night, al Shabaab attacked all major Amisom positions in Mogadishu—the government's main defense—in what it declared was a "final war" to overthrow the government and oust the Amisom troops, which it has branded as occupiers. The militants had pledged to step up their attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began this month. This is the first major outbreak of fighting.

The new Amisom troops are expected to bolster the mission's plan to take back Mogadishu from al Shabaab, which controls swaths of the city.

By: Shelldrake

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