WAR INTENSIFIES: UPDF Commandoes Rolled Out Of Mogadishu
The first troops from the AMISOM Force in Mogadishu were on Thursday night deployed to Baidoa, in western Somalia ahead of a major offensive aimed at routing the scattered Al Shabaab terrorists.
This is the first batch of battle-hardened troops to be sent to a major urban centre outside the capital since the African Union Mission was deployed to Somalia in 2007.
These 100 soldiers are the advance team for 2,500 AMISOM troops that will be deployed in phases to Somalia’s third largest city.
Made up of fifty Burundian and fifty Ugandan soldiers, this team will be stationed alongside Ethiopian troops in Baidoa, Bay region of Somalia.
The Deputy Force Commander of AMISOM, Brigadier General Audace Nduwumunsi says:
“Today is a major step forward for the African Union Mission and for everyone who wants to see peace in Somalia.”
Following hot on the heels of the UN’s authorisation of an enlarged AMISOM Force in February this deployment is the sharp end of the spear that will drive into the heart of territories controlled by Al Qaeda-backed extremists.
“The African Union Mission is building in strength and can now help the Somali government to bring peace and stability to areas of the country far from the capital. Together with the Somali Army we are defeating the violent extremists. They are losing ground and losing friends all over Somalia,” warns Nduwumunsi.
“Expect to see more deployments soon.”
This deployment represents the first in a series of phases to expand AMISOM operations outside Mogadishu.
In February this year the United Nations Security Council authorised the enlargement of AMISOM to 17,731 troops and saw the integration of Kenyan Defence Forces in southern Somalia into AMISOM.
AMISOM’s strategy for future operations includes relieving Ethiopian troops in areas in the west and gradually asserting control, in support of the Somali government, throughout south central Somalia.
The deployment comes just days after a suicide attack at the National Theatre in Mogadishu that left several civilians dead and injured but failed to kill any Somali Government Ministers.
The female suicide bomber blended in with the gathering at the Theatre where celebrations were underway marking the first anniversary of the launch of Somali National Television.
Shortly after the attack, Nduwumunsi said: “We are united with the Somali government and stand firm together. This was a despicable crime against the Somali people but it will not stop us achieving peace in Somalia. “I condemn it utterly and AMISOM stands alongside the government and families of the Somali people who have been bereaved.
“Yet again the terrorists’ methods show that they are enemies of peace and are foreign to Somali culture. By their attack they are trying to derail the hopes and dreams of the Somali people but they will fail. We encourage people in Mogadishu to continue to come forward with information about possible attacks and explosives. We are your friends and brothers as you seek to build a better way of life,” he added.
The National Theatre opened two weeks ago for the first time in more than twenty years. In recent weeks intelligence from the population in Mogadishu has led to 70% of attacks being foiled.
After kicking the insurgents out of Mogadishu, AMISOM hopes they will fully liberate the country before the end of 2012.
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Updated on 2013-06-04 10:39
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