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Regional leaders to step up war on Al Shabaab

17 November 2011, 10:27

Nairobi - The leaders of Kenya, Uganda and Somalia agreed to intensify efforts to defeat Islamist fighters in Somalia on Wednesday, at their first meeting since Kenya sent in troops to crush the militants.

The Nairobi meeting followed fresh night-time mortar attacks on the Somali capital Mogadishu by al Shabaab insurgents, highlighting the challenges President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed faces in restoring stability.

In the last week, senior Kenyan government ministers have shuttled around the region and travelled to the Gulf to drum up political and financial support for a coordinated campaign to rout the al Qaeda-linked rebels.

"The meeting emphasized the need for enhancing coordination between AMISOM, TFG forces and Kenya Defence forces in order to successfully defeat al Shabaab," said Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, who briefed reporters after the leaders' meeting.

Kenya, the region's biggest economy, said it had offered to add to the more than 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers who are propping up the shaky Western-backed Somali government. It did not specify how many.

The Somali government now controls virtually the entire capital for the first time since the overthrow of dictator Siad Barre in 1991 allowed first warlords, then Islamist militants, to step into the political vacuum.

But Ahmed's administration has virtually no control over the rest of the anarchic country.  

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Ahmed called on other African countries to fulfill their pledges to bolster the regional peacekeeping force.

"The joint Kenya-Somalia operation presents the region with a historic opportunity to restore stability and security in Somalia," Wetangula said.




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