African Union Seeks Troops to Halt `Taliban-Style' Safe Haven
July 26 2010
African Union leaders are discussing this week the dispatch of more soldiers to Somalia to stop Islamic insurgents from creating a “Taliban-style” safe haven for militants, officials and analysts said.
Government leaders from AU member states started a three- day meeting yesterday in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, that is focusing on strengthening a peacekeeping mission in Somalia two weeks after the al-Shabaab group said it detonated two bombs in the city that killed 76 people. The U.S. says al-Shabaab is a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaeda.
“Let us now act in concert and we’ll sweep them from Africa,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said yesterday in his opening speech to the summit. “Let them go back to Asia and the Middle East where I understand some of them come from.”
Islamic militias such as al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam have been battling Somalia’s transitional government for three years and control most of the southern and central regions, and sections of Mogadishu, the capital. The Kampala bombings signaled that they are now taking their fight for power beyond the country’s borders, analysts say.
“You have the potential that if this is not addressed this could create a Taliban-like safe haven for terrorists, who claim to be affiliated with al-Qaeda and have capabilities abroad,” said E.J. Hogendoorn, an analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.
Guinea Troop Offer
Guinea is ready to send troops to boost the current 6,100- strong AU mission, or Amisom, force in the Horn of Africa country to about 8,000, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping said yesterday. Only Uganda and Burundi have provided soldiers so far. Museveni offered this month to increase his nation’s troop commitment by 2,000, answering a July 5 call by East African countries to reinforce Amisom.