Friday, July 16, 2010

DTN News: Shebab Threaten More Attacks After Uganda Bombings

Defense News: DTN News: Shebab Threaten More Attacks After Uganda Bombings
Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) KAMPALA, Uganda - July 16, 2010: Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab Thursday vowed further attacks after two deadly bombings in Uganda, as Kampala said it would send more troops to boost the African Union force in Mogadishu.
Sunday's bomb attacks on entertainment spots in Kampala where crowds were watching the World Cup final killed at least 73 people and underscored the risk posed by the Somali rebel movement to the entire region.
"What happened in Kampala is just the beginning," elusive Shebab leader Mohamed Abdi Godane said in an audio message broadcast on several Mogadishu radio stations.
The Shebab -- fighting Somalia's Western-backed transitional government -- said the blasts were in retaliation for the presence of more than 3,000 Ugandan troops in the embattled African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
"We are telling all Muslims and particularly the people of Mogadishu that those martyred in AMISOM shelling will be avenged," he added.
Godane said the Kampala attacks were carried out by a unit named the Saleh Nabhan Brigade after a Kenyan-born Al-Qaeda operative allegedly behind 2002 anti-Israeli attacks in Mombasa and killed in a suspected US air raid last year.
Uganda could provide 2,000 more soldiers for the African Union force, an army spokesman said Thursday, following a decision this month by a regional body to bring AMISOM to its full strength of 8,100.
"We are capable of providing the required force if other countries fail to do so," spokesman Felix Kulayigye told AFP. "I should say, however, that I think it is appropriate that other countries contribute."
The United States welcomed Uganda's decision and pledged to boost its own aid to the force, the main obstacle preventing the Shebab from seizing full control of Mogadishu.
"We have reviewed, since Sunday, the support that we're providing to AMISOM. We are going to beef that up," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.
He also said 63 FBI agents assisting in the probe of Sunday's attacks had arrived in the region.
The Kampala attacks, the deadliest in the region since the 1998 bombings against the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, spoiled the continent's World Cup party and drew global condemnation.
Analysts said they further raised the Shebab's jihadist profile but their immediate objective was to force a withdrawal of AMISOM, which also has 2,500 troops from Burundi.
With fewer than 7,000 troops on the ground, AMISOM has enabled the tenuous survival of Somalia's Western-backed President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed but failed to weaken the insurgents.
"We are going to go on the offensive for all those who did this," Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Wednesday of the weekend attacks.
"We can join to build up the strength of that force to 20,000 so that working with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia we can eliminate the terrorists," he said.
"We were just in Mogadishu to guard the port, the airport and the State House. Now they have mobilised us to look for them."
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose 2006 invasion of Somalia failed to suppress the Shebab before withdrawing early last year, has said he would not send troops back in but nevertheless advocated a tough approach.
"There is absolutely no hope of engaging in negotiations with this group. There is no option but to work for their total annihilation," Meles told state television Thursday.
Ugandan investigators were meanwhile still trying to determine the exact circumstances of Sunday's attacks in Kampala and identities of all the victims.
A senior official has said that at least one of the blasts was a suicide attack while police said they had already arrested six suspects.

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