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Somali Militants Trying to Break Peacekeeper Morale, says Analyst


Thursday's suicide bombings in Somalia may be aimed at sending a message to the United States and breaking the morale of UNISOM peacekeepers, says Rashid Abdi, an analyst for the International Crisis Group.

The bombings killed more than 20 people, including AMISOM's deputy commander.

US forces staged a helicopter raid in Somalia Monday that reportedly killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, one of Africa's most wanted members of al-Qaida.

"This looks like…retaliation for US action. I think it also comes against the background of threats that have been there…when al-Shabaab indicated that they are going to target AMISOM troops," he says.

Expect more militant group attacks

"I think these kinds of attacks will continue. But…we must realize that there is also resolve on the part of the international community to keep these peacekeepers there. Although some kind of disappointment will be there on the part of Amisom, I don't think this will create a morale crisis," he says.

Nevertheless, he believes al-Shabaab and al-Qaida will try to create one. Al-Shabaab has warned Djibouti not to send troops to AMISOM.

"I think obviously these kinds of attacks do not help those countries that want to send peacekeepers. I think one of the reasons why there has been a great deal of reluctance on the part of some other African troop-contributing countries is precisely because of this kind of action," he says.

However, he says there's a growing "realization" among the international community that more needs to be done.

"Unless there is some…increased troop levels, then probably the whole future of the Transition Federal Government (TFG) hangs very much in the balance," he says.

Abdi describes the TFG as "very weak."

"It controls very little territory in Mogadishu. It is increasingly under pressure from al-Shabaab and the insurgents. It's now reliant on AMISOM to basically survive. And I think this attack is virtually aimed at creating panic and sowing a morale crisis within AMISOM so that they pull out," he says.

Effect of US raid

"I think it is difficult to tell at this stage the impact that the removal of such a high-level figure (Nabhan) will have on the movement itself. There are mixed views," he says.

Some say it won't have any major effect, while others say the loss of Nabhan will affect al-Shabaab's ability to launch similar attacks in the future.

"Everything is up in the air at this moment," he says.


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