[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Djibouti bolsters peacekeepers in neighbour Somalia

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2011 18:45:41 +0100

Djibouti bolsters peacekeepers in neighbour Somalia

Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:59pm GMT

* First 100 troops of 900-strong force arrive in capital

* Last minute negotiations hold up soldiers in plane

By Omar Faruk and Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Djibouti sent the first soldiers of a
900-strong deployment to neighbouring Somalia on Tuesday to bolster an
under-staffed peacekeeping mission that is preventing Islamic militants take
over the Somali capital.

The 100 soldiers flew into Mogadishu to join the African Union peacekeeping
force AMISOM, where al Shabaab rebels are trying to drive out the country's
Western-backed government.

Once in place, the 900 Djiboutians will raise the total peacekeeping force
to about 10,300 troops. AMISOM has repeatedly said it needs the 12,000
mandated by a United Nations resolution just to hold the capital where it
continues to face pockets of resistance.

Most of al Shabaab's fighters withdrew from the capital in August but have
increasingly resorted to hit-and-run and suicide bomb attacks, and last week
threatened to target Djibouti's soldiers.

A roadside bomb in Mogadishu on Tuesday killed two women street cleaners,
police and residents said.

AMISOM's deputy force commander, Brigadier-General, Nduwumunusi Audace, said
the arrival of all 900 Djiboutians would help the AU force tighten security
outside Mogadishu.

"The Djiboutian contingent will carry out missions aimed at keeping secure
state institutions, notably the port, airport or the presidency," the
commander of the Djibouti contingent Lieutenant Colonel Osman Doubad told

Witnesses said the soldiers were kept waiting in the plane for more than an
hour while commanders discussed their role. They are expected to set up a
base in the southern Jazeera neighbourhood of the city.

The rest of the Djibouti contingent is expected to arrive just before the
new year and will augment a force also staffed by troops from Uganda and
Burundi, which is expected to send another battalion by February.

Muslim Djibouti is home to the United States' only base in Africa and the
biggest base in the continent run by its former colonial master, France.


Somalia's neighbours like Djibouti are worried instability created by al
Shabaab and al Qaeda-trained foreign fighters taking refuge there will spill
over their borders.

Kenya's military is already battling al Shabaab in the south. It sent its
troops into Somalia more than two months ago after a spate of kidnappings on
Kenyan soil.

Since then, Kenya, the region's biggest economy, has been plagued by a wave
of low-level attacks in areas close to its porous frontier with Somalia.

For the second straight day, a roadside bomb exploded in Kenya's Dadaab
refugee camp, the world's largest, now home to more than 440,000 mostly
Somali refugees.

No one was killed in the blast but the ongoing attacks have restricted the
movement of aid workers in the camp. A provincial police commander said some
suspects had been arrested in connection with the attacks.

On Monday night, two people selling khat, a mild natural stimulant, were
shot dead in Kenya's eastern town of Garissa in a raid the police blamed on
al Shabaab. (Additional reporting by Arteh Abdourahim; Writing by Richard
Lough; Editing by Yara Bayoumy)

C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved



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