An official of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) has dismissed as a mere publicity stunt threats by the hard-line insurgent group al-Shabab that it will intensify attacks on Ugandan and Burundian soldiers serving with the African Union peacekeepers in Somalia.
UPDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said the insurgents’ latest threat is a sign of deep frustration after what he said was the rebel group’s failure to overthrow the Transitional Federal government (TFG).
“They didn’t attack the first thing because they were caring for us, but because we were vigilant. And, we know the threat comes as a result of frustration because they had hoped to overrun the Transitional Federal Government. And, because of the support of (peacekeepers), the TFG is still in charge of Somalia and, instead, they (insurgents) are losing ground in Mogadishu,” he said.
In a released audio tape recording, Sheikh Muqtar Abdelrahman Abu Zubeyr, leader of al-Shabab, accused the African Union peacekeeping forces in Mogadishu of committing what he described as massacres against Somali residents.
But, UPDF spokesman Kulayigye denied the accusation saying that the peacekeepers have successfully thwarted efforts by the insurgents to seize absolute control of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
“That is absolutely rubbish. That is their propaganda to make them appear as if they are the ones who care about the people of Somalia. They have raised mayhem on the innocent civilians, they have cut off their head to intimidate them into submission and, I think, the Somali people know who indeed is for their good,” Kulayigye said.
The African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is an active, regional peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union with the approval of the United Nations.
AMISOM is mandated to support Somalian transitional governmental structures, implement a national security plan, train the security forces, and to assist in creating a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
AMISOM is comprised mainly of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers despite promises by other African nations to provide additional troops.
The hard-line insurgent groups, including al-Shabab, have refused to recognize President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed’s internationally-backed government vowing to overthrow the administration and implement the strictest form of the Sharia Law.