Al Shabab terror attacks dominate African Union summit
The African Union summit got underway Sunday in Kampala, Uganda, amid calls for greater cooperation on terrorism following the city's deadly July 11 bombings by Somalia's Al Qaeda-linked militant group, Al Shabab.
Just over three weeks after a pair of suspected suicide blasts killed 76 people watching the World Cup final in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, around 35 African leaders are meeting in the city for a scheduled African Union (AU) summit.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Although the nominal theme of the meeting is maternal and child health, the subject of regional security and what can be done to tackle the Al Qaeda-linked Somali Islamist group, Al Shabab – which claimed responsibility for the July 11 attacks – dominated the discussion.
In his opening speech to the summit Sunday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called on the continent’s leaders to unite against those responsible for the attacks.
“Let us work in concert to sweep them out of Africa,” Mr. Museveni said, after a two-minute silence for those killed in the attacks, which Al Shabab claims were in revenge for indiscriminate shelling of civilians by Ugandan peacekeepers in Somalia.
A stronger mandate?
By "work in concert" Museveni means boosting the number of troops deployed to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and strengthening the mission’s mandate so that it can go on the offensive against Al Shabab.
“These reactionary groups have now committed aggression against our country,” Museveni said in a separate statement released ahead of the meeting. “We shall now go after them.”
The call for a new offensive comes on the back of recent reports that – even given its currently limited mandate – AMISOM has been indiscriminately shelling civilian areas in Mogadishu and sparked fears of more civilian casualties.
Plagued by funding, payment, and personnel problems, it has taken AMISOM three years to reach just over three quarters of its mandated 8,000 strength.