Djibouti and Guinea Pledge to Send Troops to Somalia
The head of the African Union on Friday has said that two more countries will send troops to join the African Mission for peacekeeping in Somalia (AMISOM). Mr Jean Ping AU commission president said that Djibouti and Guinea will both send troops to the ravaged country to boost the overwhelmed contingent of Uganda and Burundi forces, bringing the estimated troops levels to 10,000. The AU mission currently has about 6,000 troops from Uganda and Burundi in Somalia.
The announcement for the new deployment came during a meeting of African Union leaders in Uganda, which suffered twin bombings July 11, 2010 during the World Cup final that killed 76 people at a rugby club and a restaurant. Al-Shabab, Somalia’s most feared militant group, claimed responsibility for the attacks and said they were in retaliation for civilian deaths caused by AU troop.
“Guinea is preparing a battalion to be sent to Somalia immediately. Djibouti prepared a battalion six months ago. Guinea’s commanders are in Mogadishu preparing for the arrival of their troops,” Ping said. However, Ping did not specify the number of troops Guinea plans to send. A battalion may consist of between several hundred to more than 1,000 troops .
The weak U.N. backed Somali government is fighting an Islamist insurgency that is itself riven by divisions. The strongest insurgent group, al-Shabab, has pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden, and the U.S. State Department says some of its leaders have links to al-Qaida.
The transitional government, which has long promised to launch a major offensive against al-Shabab, controls only a few streets of the capital. Al-Shabab, along with a number of other anti-government groups, controls much of southern and central, as well as most of Mogadishu. At least 21,000 civilians are believed to have been killed in the violence over the last years, while 1.5 million have been forced to flee their homes.
The EU and the U.S. are spending millions of dollars to train 2,000 Somali government soldiers at bases in Uganda. Human rights groups have accused Guinea’s armed forces of severe abuses, including the massacre of over 150 opposition supporters in 2009 and several gang rapes.
News Report By Abdulaziz Billow.
Abdulaziz Billow is AfrobeatRadio’s correspondent for East Africa.