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Spokesman Says Latest Somali Insurgent Attack Unlikely to Deter AU Peacekeepers


A spokesman for the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said Thursday's Islamist insurgents attack will not deter the peacekeepers from carrying out their duties.

Suicide bombers attacked the main base of the AU Peacekeeping mission, killing at least nine peacekeepers, including the deputy commander.

Spokesman Major Barigye Ba-hoku said AMISOM was Thursday night still trying to assess the extent of the attack.

"We are yet to know what went wrong. But what actually happened is that one of our bases came under attack, and as a result of this attack, human and material losses were incurred. But these losses are yet to be quantified," he said.

Bahoku said Thursday's attack is unlikely to deter the peacekeepers from carrying out their mandate.

"What will happen is that first of all we will first ensure and try as much as possible to guarantee the security of the troops. I think the other aspects of whether we are going to go on the offensive, I think those are aspects of the rules of engagement than aspects of the mandate itself," Bahoku said.

He denied the constant insurgents attacks against AMISOM forces was the result of the lack of sufficient troops.

"Let me put this clear! What has happened today is not different from any other previous attacks. So we would have handled this situation the same way we have handled all the previous ones," he said.

Bahoku described Thursday's attack as perhaps one of AMISOM's low moments in the struggle for control of Somalia. But he said AMISOM does not intend to change its strategy.

"In every war situation, you always get the highs and the lows of the situation, and possibly this has been our low. But the least this was our low tie, it will not deter in any way the activities of AMISON," Bahoku said.

The Islamist militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack. The group said it was in retaliation for Monday's U.S. helicopter raid that killed an al-Qaida-linked terrorist suspect

Bahoku would not say whether Thursday's attack was the work of an al-Qaida element.

"AMISON has been in this country for the last over two and the half years. We have been subjected to attacks all these two years, and as far as we are concerned, that's the same old trend. The same old story of dealing with belligerents, of dealing with forces that prefer violence, of dealing with forces that are not willing to dialogue," Bahoku said.

Bahoku said changing AMISOM's mandate alone would not be a panacea for the Somali crisis.

"It would be expecting very much of the troops on the ground without a different mandate. I also know that the mandate itself cannot be a panacea. There is no single solution that you can prescribe this conflict here," he said.

Bahoku said AMISOM believes the Somalia conflict can only be solved by Somalis themselves.


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