The African Union has described as
barbaric attacks by Somali Islamic hard line insurgent group al-Shabaab which
left at least 11 peacekeepers dead and 15 seriously injured. The African Union
said its troops (AMISOM) will continue peacekeeping efforts in Somalia,
promising to impose sanctions on the Islamic insurgents. But al-Shabaab said
Sunday's suicide attacks are the beginning of more attacks, vowing to take over
the country and institute the sharia law.
Sunday's attack was by far the deadliest against the AU peacekeepers in
the Somali capital, Mogadishu since early 2007. It targeted a base in the south
of the city. Ambassador Nicholas Bwakira is the African Union Special envoy to
Somalia. He tells reporter Peter Clottey the AU will continue to support
Somalia's new government to ensure peace and stability despite the attacks.
reaction is a reaction of condemnation in the strongest terms of this barbaric
attack, which is undermining the efforts of the new government and new
institutions which are being put in place in the last few weeks and days. These
anti-peace forces have attacked the Burundi contingents Sunday and killed 11 of
our soldiers and wounding 15 others who have been evacuated to Nairobi (Kenya's
capital)," Ambassador Bwakira pointed out.
said the Islamic insurgent group claimed responsibility for Sunday's suicide
far I think it is Sheikh Muktar Robow Abu Mansur who has claimed these attacks. And
we are determined to continue our action. At the same time we are saying to the
Somali people that these people (insurgents) would be brought to book. They
would be subjected to sanctions, which is being decided by both IGAD
(Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and AU (African Union)," he said.
Ambassador Bwakira sharply
disagreed with suggestions that the refusal of the African union troops to
forcefully repel insurgency attacks had emboldened the Islamists hardliners to
continue their attacks.
"We are not in Somalia to
fight; we are peacekeepers. We defend ourselves when we are attacked, but we
are not going to do law enforcement. This is not our role. The new government
of Somalia is prepared to put in place Somali security forces and the
international community will help them to do that. Our role is to protect
institutions and to facilitate a dialogue. This is what we have been doing for
the last two y years and this is what we are determined to continue to do
despite these attacks and despite these killings," Ambassador Bwakira noted.
He said the African Union
reposes great confidence in the ability of the new Somali administration to
ensure peace and stability in the country after 18 years of ineffective
"Now, a new government has
been put in place; Sheikh Sharif has been inaugurated only three weeks ago. A
new prime minister has been appointed on 13 February that is only nine days ago
and the cabinet are being appointed this weekend. So, we have confidence, full
confidence in the new institutions and we are confident that this new
institution will make this security a priority. In fact Sheikh Sharif has
indicated that security will be his top priority for the first six months of
the government," he said.
Ambassador Bwakira said the
African Union would continue to support the new administration to succeed.
"I can tell you that we have
already provided support to the new government. President Sheikh Sharif has put
a central security committee in Mogadishu 10 days ago. And we are working very
closely with this security committee to put in place new forces about 2,700
people have already been selected. And we are going to support them so that
they would be able to secure Mogadishu and the country," Ambassador Bwakira
Described by Washington as a terrorist
organization, al-Shabaab refuses to recognize the new Somali president and has
vowed to take over the country and institute the sharia law. The group claims
new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is a puppet put there to do the
bidding of the west.
Sunday's attack was the second on
the Burundian base in the space of a few days. The previous attack reportedly
left one civilian dead and two wounded, but caused no casualties among the AU
troops. Until the latest attacks, the Somali capital had enjoyed a relative
lull in violence following the election on January 31 of Islamist cleric Sheikh
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as president. The Isamic hard line al-shabaab spent the
last two years battling the Ethiopian forces who invaded Somalia in late 2006
but completed a pullout last month.