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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Uganda to send extra 2,000 troops to Somalia, says official

The Daily Monitor

August 13, 2011
President Museveni has pledged to send an additional 2,000 Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers to beef up security in the war torn Somali capital Mogadishu.

The offer comes a week after the Islamic militants, Al-Shabab, withdrew from areas they held in the capital.

Lt-Col Paddy Ankunda, the spokesperson for the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), told Saturday Monitor that the increase in troop levels is intended to consolidate security in the capital and plan for Phase Two of the military assault against the Al-Shabab.

"UPDF will instead increase the number of troops in Somalia. President Museveni has already pledged additional 2,000 soldiers," Lt-Col Ankuda said, adding, "UPDF will not withdraw because the mission to liberate Somalia has just started. (Getting Al-Shabab out of) Mogadishu was Phase One, there are two more phases."
The Somali Transitional Federal Government backed by the peacekeepers, have battled the insurgents for five years now. Uganda and Burundi have 9,000 soldiers in the war torn country.

President Museveni's latest move follows an appeal for more troops by the African Union force commander to secure the capital, after militant Islamists left the city.

AMISOM Commander Maj-Gen Fred Mugisha told journalists earlier this week that the militant Al-Shabab group still threatened stability in Mogadishu and troops were needed to protect food aid. The group is blocking distribution of food aid to those affected by famine.

Gen Mugisha, said the AU should immediately deploy about 3,000 troops to fill in the gap left by the Al-Shabab. The UN Security Council has, however, approved a 12,000-strong AU force for Somalia, although the AU said it needs 20,000 troops to secure the country.

Several African countries, including Nigeria and Malawi, have failed to fulfil promises to send troops because they fear being dragged into the long-running conflict. Only Uganda and Burundi have deployed troops in Somalia.


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