Thursday, July 29, 2010

AMISOM Troops to Launch More Aggressive Attacks in Somalia

AU troops to carry out attacks


KAMPALA. African Union troops in Somalia can now carry out pre-emptive attacks against Islamist insurgents, following a change in the rules of engagement for the force, the Ugandan military said yesterday.

"Now the forces are free to attack in a pre-emptive manner,’ said Felix Kulayigye, a spokesman for the Ugandan military, which makes up the bulk of the AU mission in war-torn Mogadishu.

"If there is a realisation that you are about to be attacked you are mandated to attack first."

The change in the rules comes after Somalia’s hardline Shebab militia, which is fighting to topple the Western-backed government, claimed July 11 bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala that killed 76 people.

African Union peace and security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said on Monday that the regional body had set up new rules of engagement for the AU mission in Somalia, which so far could only respond when first attacked.

More than 30 African heads of state winding up a three-day summit in the Ugandan capital Tuesday also agreed to boost the troop level by 2 000.

However, the leaders were yet to agree on whether to completely change the force’s madate under chapter seven of the UN charter.

"The decision about the mandate is still being taken, but I think there is a realisation that chapter seven is difficult," Ugandan foreign ministry permanent secretary James Mugume told AFP.

"What we are hoping for is chapter six and a half. It involves an adjustment in the rules of engagement that allows us to act more robustly.

"A change to six and a half would still require consultations with the UN Security Council," he explained.

The AU force currently comprises some 6 000 Ugandan and Burundian troops and the additional soldiers are to increase its level to the intended full strength. — AFP.

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