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Spokesman Denies Presence of AU Peacekeeping Reinforcements in Somalia

Major Barigye Bahoku of AMISOM says the media might have misquoted the AU deputy representative for Somalia about the troop arrival.

The spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, has denied published reports that hundreds of new Ugandan troops have arrived in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, to strengthen the AU force that supports the Somali government.

AU deputy special representative for Somalia, Wafula Wamunyinyi, was quoted as saying that the new troops began arriving in Mogadishu last Friday.

AMISOM spokesman Major Barigye Bahoku
AMISOM spokesman Major Barigye Bahoku

But, Major Barigye Bahoku, spokesman for AMISOM said the media might have misquoted, or misunderstood, the AU deputy representative for Somalia.

“First of all, soldiers are human beings and they cannot be hidden. So, when they arrive in the mission area and they are deployed, we will obviously tell the world that these troops have arrived. But, for now, I think it looks like someone is being quoted out of context. So, I would like to clarify that the troops have not yet arrived. When they arrive, we will tell the world,” he said.

Bahoku said it would not be surprising if the media misquoted AU deputy special representative for Somalia Wafula Wamunyinyi.

“I don’t know where the information is coming from, but it would appear that one of the officials of the AU could have been either quoted out of context or may be misunderstood. That quite often happens with the media, and it should worry everyone,” Bahoku said.

He said 2,000 troops is quite a sizable number of soldiers and that there is no way they would arrive in Mogadishu without anyone knowing about their arrival.

Uganda pledged to send more troops to Somalia after the Islamist militant group al-Shabab carried out twin bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala last month killing 76 people.

When completed, the ongoing deployment will increase the number of AU soldiers in Mogadishu from 6,000 to 8,000.