Tuesday, 9 August 2011

AMISOM Force Commander Says Extremists Still Pose Threat And Appeals For More Troops

AMISOM PRESS RELEASE
Mogadishu, 09 August, 2011

Al Qaida-linked extremist insurgents still pose a threat to the Somali capital and to areas of the city where humanitarian efforts are underway to ease the famine-struck country, despite their declared withdrawal, AMISOM has said.

AMISOM Force commander, Maj. Gen. Fred Mugisha, said even though the retreat appeared to have been deliberate and coordinated, it had been forced by the pressure created by recent gains made by the Somali National Army with the support of his troops. “They did not abandon Mogadishu of their own free will,” he said.

“The extremists have however not withdrawn completely,” he added, noting that pockets of insurgents remained in the city and in the outskirts, particularly near the pasta factory and north east of the stadium.

“90-95 percent of Mogadishu has been liberated, creating areas for starving people to access food aid, but the city is not as calm as we would like it to be,” he said.

For years the extremists have used guerrilla-style attacks, including the use of IEDs and suicide bombings, as well as more conventional military tactics. The concern is that insurgents will seek to focus their efforts on an asymmetric campaign, threatening the government, the security of the civilian populace and humanitarian relief efforts.

Gen. Mugisha said that majority of people in areas under government control are accessing much needed food aid but expects a surge of IDPs to enter the city. He however noted that more needed to be done to alleviate the suffering throughout the country.

“We need to move quickly if we are to help expand government administration and help Somalis. History will judge us for the lives we protect not those we destroy ,” he said, appealing to all those who are responsible for the future of Somalia that AMISOM urgently requires additional troops as well as a maritime and air capability if it was to secure the city and the rest of the country before millions perished from the famine.

“We are working round the clock to help Somalis to pick up the pieces of their lives and we certainly need more than 12,000 troops mandated by the UN Security Council to create an enabling environment for the provision of aid,” he said.

Last year, the African Union appealed to the Security Council to raise the mandated strength of the AMISOM force to 20,000 troops, from the current deployed strength of 9,000, and provide it with an air and sea component.

Regarding security in Mogadishu, he said AMISOM was working with the Transitional Federal Government on a new security plan for the capital. Details of the plan are being worked up but he said that this would also require an immediate increase in the number of AMISOM troops.

“Our forces now have to cover a much larger area of the city and we risk being overstretched. I appeal to our international partners – on whom we rely - to expedite the deployment of the 3,000 extra troops already authorised by the Security Council as a matter of urgency, so we achieve the mandated force strength of 12,000,” he said.

“AMISOM will continue to support the Somali government as it works with all stakeholders on the ground to help ensure the most fundamental form of security; law and order on the streets,” he said. “We request the cooperation of AMISOM’s international supporters as we strive to do what we can to help protect lives.”





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