pharm http://cooperativenet.com/wp-content/plugins/nextgen-gallery/products/photocrati_nextgen/modules/nextgen_basic_tagcloud/adapter.nextgen_basic_tagcloud_urls.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 14px;”>Deputy chief of Defence Forces Lieutenant General Ivan Koreta said good regional intelligence as well as inter-community relations would mean the militant group was unlikely to succeed
Koreta also said that plans to increase the AMISOM peace force in which Uganda participates would hasten al-Shabaab’s defeat, while tighter regional military cooperation also increased the pressure on fugitive Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.
“We know we are targets of al Shabaab and al Shabaab will do anything to harm and cause trouble to our community,” Koreta, Uganda’s Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, told Reuters on the sidelines of a security conference in Morocco.
“Instead of fighting our forces in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia they must find soft targets in Uganda, people who are going about their normal business to cause animosity and anger and hurt.”
“We are very much aware of this and we are constantly on the look out. Not that they are not trying. They are trying, but we have to remain on top of the game.”
“If there is a risk, it is minimal,” he said.
Al Shabaab’s calls for action had been brushed off by Uganda’s Muslim minority who realised “terrorism is not the way to go,” he said. Better regional intelligence ties also curbed al Shabaab’s threat.
Ugandan troops make up the bulk of AMSIOM, which is largely responsible for preventing Islamists from taking power in Somalia.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for attacks in Kampala in 2010 that killed 79 people watching the World Cup final, saying it was retribution for Uganda’s troop deployments in Mogadishu. In September two Ugandans were jailed after pleading guilty to terrorism charges related to the coordinated bombing.
Analysts have said a small fringe of east African Muslims of non-Somali ancestry have adopted increasingly radical Islamist views. Analysts see this as a concern because, they say, some regional security personnel tend to associate militancy only with nationals of Somali and Arab origin.
Asked about these concerns, Koreta said monitoring of suspects and their movements across borders was being improved by better regional security cooperation. Also, AMISOM’s presence in Somalia was “a big intelligence benefit” in gathering information on al Shabaab and its sympathisers.
This month the African Union extended AMISOM’s mandate by a further 12 months and said it intended to bolster its size to close to 18,000 from almost 10,000 currently.
Koreta said AMISOM could speed up and complete its operations against al Shabaab if it had more troops. He said: “We would benefit a lot definitely, from many, many more soldiers, in that the more numbers we have, the quicker the pacification of Somalia would take… It’s a doable operation.”
Turning to the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), accused of murder, rape and child kidnappings in east and central Africa, Koreta said its elusive leader Kony was in an area near the borders of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.
“It is very difficult terrain. He is not looking for a fight because he doesn’t have the means to sustain a fight,” he said.
“We are looking for as much help as we can from our friends in the DRC, CAR and South Sudan, and of course we appreciate the help the U.S. government has given with some specialised soldiers to try to track down the LRA.”
The African Union in November formally designated the LRA as a terrorist group, following U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to send 100 military advisers to the region to support central African allies pursuing Kony.
“It is a very, very tough job,” Koreta said. “The terrain is difficult. To manoeuvre you must go only on foot. We hope with renewed cooperation we should be able to narrow the LRA’s area of operation until we either capture or kill him.”
Asked if Kony’s death would be the end of the LRA, Koreta replied: “I don’t see a regeneration of LRA in Uganda. Our people in northern Uganda have been traumatised for over 20 years and don’t want to go into that thing (again).”