Saturday, October 12, 2013
The African Union has backed a call to boost by about a
third the number of troops in an African peacekeeping force in Somalia
to reinforce a campaign against Islamist militants there who attacked a
Nairobi shopping mall last month.
The union's Peace and Security Council said 6,235 soldiers and
police should be added to the AMISOM peacekeeping force to take its
total strength to 23,966 uniformed personnel for a limited period of 18
to 24 months.
The council endorsed the recommendations of a review of the force
this week and announced its decision on Friday. The decision needs the
approval of the U.N. Security Council.
AMISOM is made up of troops mainly from Kenya, Uganda and Burundi.
Ethiopia has also sent in soldiers, but they are not under AMISOM
The attack on the Westgate shopping complex in Nairobi, in which at
least 67 people died, highlighted the reach of Somalia's al Shabaab
Islamist group, which claimed responsibility.
The AU council "stresses the need for renewed efforts to degrade the
capabilities of al Shabaab, in view of the continued threat it poses
both within Somalia and in the region," it said in a statement.
This week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told
Reuters that Western nations and others should do more to help both the
Somali government and AMISOM crush al Shabaab, although he said he did
not see the need for more troops.
(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Matthew Tostevin)