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African Union:Somali Insurgents Expanding Area Of Attacks-AFP

Friday, January 18, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP)--Islamist insurgents battling the Somali government and Ethiopian forces are increasingly taking the fight outside of the capital Mogadishu, an African Union report said Friday.

"Over the past weeks, the anti-government forces have spread their activities to regions that were previously peaceful, though not necessarily under government control," said the report by AU Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare.

The report said insurgents were training recruits and planning attacks in the Lower and Upper Jubba regions, the two southernmost provinces in the troubled Horn of Africa country.

"Armed elements are also reported to be using the Lower Shabelle region to ferry arms," Konare's report said.

The report listed recent incidents it said were further evidence that the armed wing of the Islamist movement that controlled large parts of the country for months in 2006 was seeking to destabilize the government nationwide.

The African Union has around 1,600 Ugandan peacekeeping troops deployed in Mogadishu, but the contingent has struggled to make an impact, with the rest of the 8,000 forces pledged by the body slow to arrive.

Burundi has started deployed an 800-strong battalion but no timetable has yet been set for the deployment of contingents pledged by Ghana and Nigeria.

The Ugandan troops, which were dispatched to Mogadishu early last year, started rotating for the first time and a first contingent returned to Uganda Friday.

A group of 200 Ugandan peacekeepers "came back flying our flag and a replacement is going," Lieutenant Naboth Mugisha, an air force spokesman at Entebbe airbase, told AFP.

A fresh batch of 200 left Friday for Mogadishu, he added.

Source: AFP, Jan 18, 2008


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