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Burundi sends more troops to Mogadishu

Monday March 14 2011

BUJUMBURA, Monday

Burundi has deployed an additional 1,000 soldiers for the African Union force protecting the Somali government, the military chief said Monday.

General Godefroid Niyombare told AFP the soldiers were sent a week ago to join the 8,000 Burundian and Ugandan troops in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

“Burundi and Uganda... agreed to each send 1,000 troops as part of the additional 4,000 soldiers required. Burundi has fulfilled its promise,” Gen Niyombare said.

The AU last year requested the force be boosted to 12,000 from its authorised strength of 8,000.

Somalia’s civil war has taken a heavy toll on the troops and in a recent offensive against Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels, at least 43 Burundian soldiers were killed.

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“The morale of the troops in Somalia is very high despite the losses we suffered,” the army chief said.

“Not only was the operation successful, but the arrival of their comrades will see them consolidate the new positions” seized from the insurgents.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for greater international help for Somalia and the AU force in Somalia (AMISOM).

“Dozens of brave peacekeepers of AMISOM from Burundi and Uganda made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace,” Mr Ban told the UN security council at the weekend.

The United Nations nor the African Union have yet given a final toll for AMISOM, which is propping up the transitional government. (AFP)