Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Somalia's insurgents warn Uganda of fresh attacks

By AFP

MOGADISHU, Tuesday

Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shabaab group that claimed responsibility for deadly suicide bombings in Kampala in July warned Uganda it would face more attacks if it did not pull out of Somalia.

Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Khalaf 'Shangole', one of the Shabaab's most radical leaders, issued his warning at a mosque in Mogadishu, even as Uganda continued to deploy troops as part of an African Union mission (AMISOM).

Ugandan President "Yoweri Museveni has become an obstacle and is refusing stability in our country," Shangole said, in front of hundreds of supporters in the Suqaholaha neighbourhood.

"So we warn him in the strongest possible terms against his plans to send more troops to Somalia and we tell the Ugandan people... if they send fresh troops to our country, they will pay the price at home like they did recently."

Museveni responded to the July 11 suicide attacks in Kampala, in which 76 people died, by vowing to send more troops to AMISOM and urging the world to increase its support for the force.

Uganda was the first country to contribute soldiers to the force in 2007 and continues to form the backbone of a contingent that has been the last barrier preventing the Shabaab-led insurgency from seizing full control of Mogadishu from the western-backed transitional government.

"We send a clear warning to Yoweri Museveni and we tell him: 'Don't send your troops to our country and withdraw those you have already deployed, or else many of your citizens will be crying in Kampala," Shangole said.

Uganda said last week it had up to 10,000 troops ready to send to Somalia and only needed foreign logistical assistance to perform the deployment.

African Union officials said last week that AMISOM's troop level had recently risen to 7,200. The force is seeking a more robust mandate that would allow it to hunt down insurgents and take control of Mogadishu.

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