ed http://crfg.org/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/sync/class.jetpack-sync-actions.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>The town was liberated by Somali National Army, http://centthor.com/wp-includes/class-wp-rewrite.php supported by AMISOM troops from the Ethiopian contingent last Wednesday.
In what is widely seen as a face-saving measure, Al-Shabaab are now making wild claims of excesses by the arriving troops. But these conflict sharply with reports from local sources who said in fact that the insurgents were simply overwhelmed and did little more than turn and run after offering weak resistance.
Al-Shabaab press statements come from a series of unidentifiable social media sites with no indication or evidence of their sources or truth. Several year old photographs, often with no actual context, have previously been used to try and substantiate their statements.
When the African Union sponsored AMISOM force first commenced its task of taking on the Al-Qaeeda supporting insurgents, the terrorists were quick to make hysterical allegations of troop misconduct.
AMISOM in turn have been rigorous in demonstrating their discipline and concern for the Somali people and have engaged with international experts in the monitoring of civilian casualties to demonstrate their consideration for the Somali people caught up in the war.
They are proud to have been cast as an “African solution to an African problem” and soldiers talk proudly of working with their “brothers and sisters” from a host of troop and police contributing countries as far away as Sierra Leone.
AMISOM force spokesman, Col Ali Houmed said: “All our officers and troops receive extensive pre-deployment training and this includes reminders of our responsibilities to the Somali people – after all it is them we are here for. We are hugely sensitive to the impact of our operations and do everything we can to minimize risk to civilian life and damage to their property. We are here to re-build Somalia – it is the insurgents who destroyed this country. We are here to make peace happen”.
AMISOM is mandated by international law and a succession of United Nation Security Council Resolutions have spelt out the need to give due regard to the lives of the Somali people.
Col. Ali went on to say: “talking to our soldiers on the ground, AMISOM is proud of the concern that our troops show for local people.” adding that al-Shabaab desperation is driving them to make ridiculous allegations. An organization whose hallmark is decapitations, stonings and amputations is hardly well placed to offer opinion on the conduct of others.
But there is also a deep-seated understanding within AMISOM of the insurgent’s need to try and fracture the spirit and discipline within the African Union.
The AU special representative Mahamat Saleh Annadif who leads the overall AMISOM mission is quick to recognize this: “the reason the insurgents are currently focusing on the Ethiopians is because they recognize the new impetus of our broad based task force and they are desperate to fracture it. When they were being forced out of Kismayo it was the Kenyans they turned on.
“They chose to ignore the fact that the Ethiopians are here at the invitation of the Somali Government and that in common with all AMISOM troops they will leave Somalia just as soon as the Somali people have a self-sustaining Government”.
Ambassador Annadif went on: “The deployment of the Ethiopian troops was a collective and collegial decision of the African Union. The Ethiopian troops serve under the command and control of AMISOM and adhere to the same rules of engagement as any other contingent. It is the collective strength of the pan-African coalition and its’ exposure of the horrors of Al-Shabaab that is driving them to ever more outlandish utterances and actions.”
He added: “And they now know, and are terrified by the fact, that the world understands this. The concept of being lectured on concern for the well being of local people by the same maniacs that butchered innocent women and children in the Westgate shopping centre, and perpetrates beheadings, amputations and executions within Somalia is one the whole world will find too ridiculous to contemplate.”