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AMISOM Denies Backing Somali Government Forces Fighting Insurgents

The Africa Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has sharply denied backing government troops fighting hard line insurgents. Media reports Sunday suggested that AMISOM troops reinforced government forces in a raging fight against Islamist insurgents.

Some political observers said AMISOM would have flouted its own mandate if it were involved in active combat.

But AMISOM denied any involvement in the fighting between government troops and hard line Islamic insurgents.

Major Barigye Ba-Huko is the spokesman for AMISOM. He told VOA that AMISOM troop

movement has been misconstrued.

"Those are reports that have been created by opposition forces to attack our positions. What has happened is that AMISOM pre-empted and tried to do what it should to ensure that the safety of troops and the safety of supply routes are guaranteed," Ba-Huko said.

He said AMISOM wanted to ensure its troops and supply routes were protected.

"The force commander made a statement to the effect that there was a limit and there was a red line. And that any person, any force crossing that red line would obviously be engaged," he said.

Ba-Huko said AMISOM acted to prevent insurgents from taking over areas under its protection.

"We did a show of force, one to guarantee that the routes are open and two to ensure that the safety of our soldiers is in place. That is what people have misconstrued to mean that we are engaged in active combat," Ba-Huko said.

He denied allegations AMISOM violated the African Union mandate by allegedly fighting alongside Somali government troops.

"We've not in any way violated our mandate. In fact, it is known that we are supposed in the whole of Somalia. So, there is nothing absolutely wrong in AMISOM being any part in Mogadishu," he said.

Ba-Huko said the AMISOM troop presence in different areas of Somalia was misconstrued.

"What possibly people are talking about is that for the first time our troops have moved to certain areas where maybe we have never been seen beforeā€¦that is what people say that we are getting actively involved in the battle," Ba-Huko said.

Meanwhile, Somali insurgents were believed to be closing in on the presidential palace in the capital, Mogadishu in Sunday's raging fight that has reportedly left dozens dead.