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General: US Military to Boost AU Somalia Force

A top U.S. general says the military is ready to give more assistance to African Union forces in Somalia.

General William Ward, head of the U.S. military's Africa Command, says the U.S. hopes to provide more training, transportation, and logistical aid to the AU mission, known as AMISOM.

Ward made the comments Tuesday while addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The United States currently provides training and supplies to AMISOM, which consists of several thousand troops from Uganda and Burundi. The troops clash frequently with Somali insurgents who are trying to topple the Somali government.

AMISOM has helped the government keep control of key areas of Mogadishu, notably the airport, seaport, and presidential palace.

In a briefing to reporters last week, a senior Obama administration official said the U.S. wants to "build up the capabilities" of AMISOM and the government.

The United States has repeatedly expressed concern about insurgent groups al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam seizing control of Somalia. Officials say if that happens, the country could turn into a haven for terrorists.

Al-Shabab has proclaimed its links with al-Qaida, and the group is on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.