Uganda hosts talks on AU Somalia force

Defence ministers from Uganda, Burundi and Somalia met on Friday in Kampala over the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia after last week’s suicide attack on the force, an official said.

The ministers, alongside military chiefs of staff from the three countries, began discussions on Thursday at an undisclosed location and continued on Friday.

“Somalia security is top on the agenda of this meeting,” Ugandan army spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said late on Thursday.

Last Thursday, radical Somali Islamist rebels carried out deadly twin suicide attacks on the AU force headquarters in Mogadishu, killing 21 people including 17 peacekeepers as well as the force’s deputy comander.

Since that attack the insurgents have called for fresh attacks against the African peacekeeping force, which comes under fire almost on a daily basis on the streets of the Somali capital.

Burundi and Uganda are the only countries that contribute troops to Amisom. The force currently counts 5 000 men, well short of the 8 000 promised when the force was deployed in March 2007.

Bujumbura and Kampala, as well as the AU, are asking for the force’s mandate to be beefed up. — AFP

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