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AU force in Somalia almost at full strength

01 December 2010, 22:21

Bujumbura - Burundi has sent an additional battalion of 850 soldiers to Somalia, an army spokesperson said on Wednesday, bringing the African Union (AU) force in Mogadishu close to its full authorised strength of 8 000.

"Upon request from the AU, Burundi sent an additional battalion to Somalia last week," Burundian army spokesperson Gaspard Baratuza told AFP.

"This brings to four the total number of Burundian battalions deployed in this country as part of the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom)," he said.

The latest deployment from the small central African country brings to around 8 000 the total number of Amisom troops deployed in Mogadishu, with the rest of the force provided by Uganda.

The AU force, whose main task since it was first deployed in early 2007 has been to protect the weak Western-backed transitional federal government, has failed to stabilise Mogadishu and faces a fierce Islamist insurgency.

The African Union has requested the authorised limit of the force be raised to at least 12 000 and wants a more robust mandate but the move requires approval from the UN Security Council.



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