AMISOM frees 41 Al Shabaab civilian detainees
The African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on Thursday said its peacekeeping forces together with those of Somalia undertook a military operation against Al Shabab in Mogadishu, which resulted in the release of 41 civilian detainees held by the Islamist group.
“AMISOM and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia forces have this morning, 28 July 2011, mounted highly targeted security operations to contain and remove the threat of continued Al Shabaab attacks along the front line and increase security for IDP (internally displaced people’s) camps in TFG controlled areas of Mogadishu, AMISOM Force spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Ankunda” the mission in a statement.
“This limited and pinpoint offensive has resulted in the capture of the strategically important positions of Florenza, Sinai and Monopolio Junctions in north east Mogadishu.
“During the course of the operation 41 civilian hostages being held by Al Shabaab were able to escape to TFG controlled territory.
“Following a period of sustained provocation from Al Shabaab, our troops have dealt with specific security threats in a short tactical offensive operation.
AMSON said the operation will further increase security in TFG controlled areas of Mogadishu and ensure that aid agencies can continue to operate and get vital humanitarian supplies to people.
“AMISOM fully understands the need to restrain military operations while the aid agencies mount their humanitarian campaign
“However, we are here to maintain stability in Mogadishu, and if we perceive a threat from the extremist insurgents, then it is our duty to protect and defend the most vulnerable from this threat,” Ankunda added.
Half the population in Somalia, which has been hit by what has been described as the worst drought in the last 60 years, is suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis.
According to UN estimates, 30 per cent of children are acutely malnourished, and about four people in every 10,000 die daily due to a lack of food and other basic necessities.
AMISOM’s announcement comes after the United Nations and the United States said that aid agencies needed more guarantees from armed groups in the lawless Horn of Africa country in order for their staff to reach the crisis-hit population.
“We can reassure the humanitarian community that they can continue to operate in relative safety, and that we will keep them informed of any necessary future operations while we work with them to limit the impact on their lifesaving activities.”
Currently, around 5,500 Ugandan and Burundi peacekeeping forces are in Somalia, mainly in Mogadishu, under the AU mandate to help the TFG of Somalia in stabilising the country, which has been without a central government for the past 20 years.
A number of peacekeepers have been killed by Al Shabab since the mission started operating in the Horn of Africa country in 2007.
Since AMISOM deployed to Mogadishu in 2007, Al Shabaab has launched major offensives every year during the Ramadan period.
“Intelligence reveals that over the past month the organisation has been bringing additional fighters into Mogadishu and attacks on AMISOM positions are likely to increase,” added AMISOM.