Uganda Set to Deploy Hundreds of Extra Troops to Somalia

Published: March 3, 2014

African Union peacekeeping soldiers parade during arrival of Somalia's new president Ahmed in capital MogadishuBy NICHOLAS BARIYO

KAMPALA, Uganda—Uganda is set to deploy as many as 410 extra troops to Somalia to guard United Nations facilities there after a surge in attacks by al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabab militants in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation, the Ugandan military said Sunday.

Military spokesman, Lt. Col Paddy Ankunda said the guard unit will bolster the African Union peace keeping mission in Somalia, known as Amisom with the “extra strength” required to restore order in the chaotic port city of Mogadishu.

The deployment comes just a few days after a car bomb exploded outside the headquarters of Somalia’s intelligence agency in Mogadishu, killing at least 12 people, the third deadly attack to hit the capital in as many weeks.

“The U.N. guard unit will free the bulk of Amisom forces from escort duties to pursue al Shabab in their hide-outs,” Lt. Col. Ankunda said. “This force is the first of its kind under Amisom.”

Following last week’s attack, the U.N. Security Council said it would “continue to support all international efforts” aimed at ending the threat posed by al-Shabaab.

Uganda already has as many as 6,000 troops in Somalia, leading the African Union force, which is helping Somalia’s weak national army in operations against the militants. Al Shabab militants were flushed out of Mogadishu in 2011 but continue to hunker down in much of the countryside, posing a security challenge for the country.

Experts say the deployment provides an opportunity to Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni to win over western donors, who have criticized him after he signed an antigay bill that will see some homosexuals jailed for life.

Uganda was the first country to deploy troops in Somalia in 2007, in a U.S.-backed initiative to pacify the nation.

Somalia hasn’t had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, making it a haven for terrorists, pirates and illicit arms dealers.

Source: WSJ

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