Posted Tuesday, November 22 2011 at 00:00
Hitting targets. The killings on Sunday come after the militants intensified attacks on Amisom positions. Only one Burundian soldier was hurt.
The African Union forces in Somalia yesterday said they had killed 25 al-Shabaab fighters during a Sunday night battle with Uganda and Burundian forces in Mogadishu.
Amisom Spokesperson Paddy Ankunda told Daily Monitor by phone from Mogadishu that the insurgents had increased attacks on Amisom positions because they were “energised” by an addition of three plane loads of arms and ammunition, allegedly received from Eritrea.
“About 25 remained in the battlefield and one Burundian soldier was injured critically. What is clear is that the al-Shabaab received three air crafts recently and these landed in Baidoa. They think they can recapture Mogadishu. But this is an impossible job,” Lt. Col. Ankunda said.
The intensified attacks against Amisom positions come as the AU commanders and the Kenyan army officers today meet in Addis Ababa to discuss the modalities of a joint operation recently announced by Uganda, Kenya and Somalia against the insurgents.
The meeting, according to Col. Ankunda, will also debate the offer by the Kenyan government to join the peacekeeping mission.
If Kenya becomes part of Amisom, its thousands of soldiers currently deployed in southern Somalia will be part of the AU peacekeepers led by Uganda’s UPDF which forms the bulk of 9,000 soldiers deployed to defend the beleaguered government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
The AU troops are operating under the mandate of AU peacekeeping mission while Kenyans are fighting the al-Shabaab under self-defence, after the insurgents kidnapped tourists and aid workers from eastern Kenya and took them to Somalia.
Col. Ankunda said they lack enough troops and this was hampering their plans to begin the second phase of the offensive against the insurgents, which involves spreading out of Mogadishu.
“It’s all about availability of troops and force enablers. We are also not sure whether the helicopters and combat engineers will be availed soon to make the roll out possible. Some discussions are ongoing though,” he said.
He said the second phase will begin after helicopters promised by the US, EU and the extra 2200 UN approved additional forces from Uganda and Burundi have been deployed.
“For security reasons, I won’t reveal the dates but they have confirmed that they are coming,” Col. Ankunda said, “Sierra Leone promised to send its troops mid next year.”