AU forces to advance on Shabaab
13 February 2012, 08:55
Mogadishu - African Union forces in Somalia are planning to attack a
stronghold town of Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels to the west of the
war-torn country's capital, a commander said on Sunday.
Nduwumunsi, the AU force's deputy commander, said the troops are
planning to raid Afgoye town, which is some 30km west of Mogadishu and
hosts the biggest population of displaced Somalis.
for Afgoye will start very soon. We will start attacking Afgoye very
soon, but that depends on the circumstances then," Nduwumunsi, told AFP,
but did not give an exact date.
"We will avoid civilian casualties," he added.
of southern Somalia is under the control of the extremist Shabaab
militia fighting to overthrow the Western-backed Somali government.
The 9 700-strong AU force, comprising troops from Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda, protects the government.
Shabaab abandoned fixed positions in Mogadishu last August, but has
continued to carry out grenade and suicide attacks on government targets
in the anarchic capital.
In January, the AU urged the United
Nations to boost its forces to 17 731 troops from the currently
authorised maximum of 12 000.
Nduwumunsi said Burundi and Uganda, which form the bulk of the force, will deploy more troops if the increase is authorised.
Shabaab have been facing increasing encirclement by regional forces,
with Kenya battling the insurgents in the south of the country and
Ethiopia stationing troops in western Somalia.
A Kenyan military
spokesperson said on Saturday that since Nairobi sent troops to fight
the Shabaab in October, the insurgents have been weakened and their
revenue sources disrupted.
Nduwumunsi added that the AU troops were also targeting the key southern port town of Kismayo, currently under Shabaab control.
is a crucial target because the Shabaab earn a lot of money from this
port. We will take Kismayo come rain come sunshine," the commander said.
Get the latest news by following us on Twitter