AL-QAEDA-LINKED militants in Somalia claimed responsibility for attacks that killed at least 40 people over the weekend as African leaders called for increased international backing for multinational forces fighting the insurgents.
Two bombings in the southern town of Baidoa on Sunday killed 25 people and injured another 48, police and health officials said. Blasts and gun attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, on February 26 left 15 people dead. Al-Shabaab, the Islamist-militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda, said it carried out the latest attacks.
African leaders who gathered in Djibouti on Sunday said the United Nations and other international bodies should intensify their support of the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as Amisom, to “significantly degrade the growing threats posed by al-Shabaab.” The European Union earlier this month reduced it’s financial support to Amisom troop allowances by 20%, citing financial constraints.
Unless the UN provides the force in Somalia with similar support that it does to other peacekeeping missions, “the AU would have to reconsider the Amisom mission,” the leaders said in a statement issued after a meeting of seven states that contribute security forces to Amisom.
Twelve military helicopters authorised by the UN Security Council in 2012 have yet to be deployed, according to a statement issued by the Kenyan presidency on February 28.
Series of attacks
“Whereas the continent is footing the bill of stabilising Somalia by blood and flesh, it is disheartening that the international community is even contemplating to reduce support to Amisom,” Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in the statement.
Kenya, which contributes soldiers to the Amisom mission, has faced a series of attacks on its soil by al-Shabaab, including an assault on Garissa University near the Somali border last year in which at least 147 people died.
The insurgents also claimed responsibility for an attack on a Kenyan military base in Somalia last month in which it said at least 100 soldiers dead.
Kenya’s government hasn’t given a death toll, even as Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud claimed he was misquoted when he in a TV interview last week gave a toll of 180-200 Kenyan soldiers dead.
In another development Kenya placed its security forces on high alert on intelligence reports that Al-Shabaab are planning to attack its main airports, Capital FM reported, citing Kenya Airports Authority Security Manager Eric Kiraithe.
A memorandum sent to airport managers warned that suicide bombers may target domestic flights at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the capital, Nairobi, and Moi International Airport in the port city of Mombasa, the broadcaster said.
Kiraithe wasn’t immediately available for comment.