African leaders pledge more troops to fight al-Shabaab after Uganda bombs

African leaders condemned Somalia's al-Shabaab rebels yesterday at a Kampala summit. Officials said they will beef up an African force fighting the group behind attacks that killed 76 people in Uganda this month.

The African Union (AU) meeting in the Ugandan capital, the site of two suicide attacks on soccer fans watching the World Cup final on television, has put the Somali crisis at the top of the agenda. More than 30 African leaders are under pressure to respond.

The summit's main debating point has been the mandate of an AU peacekeeping force of 6,300, which has been responsible for preventing Somalia's government falling to rebel attacks in the capital, Mogadishu.

The force is made of up of Ugandan and Burundian troops and that, together with allegations that it has killed civilians with indiscriminate shelling, was the reason given by the rebels for the attack.

Delegates told Reuters a cap of 8,100 on troop levels would be lifted during the meeting. A more contentious possibility was that the force, known as Amisom, be given permission to go after the rebels. It can now fight only when attacked.

The AU commission's chairman, Jean Ping, called the al Shabaab attacks "despicable" and said the continental body was ready to step up its response.

"The commission is already planning the next phases in the deployment of Amisom in terms of the enlarged mandate, increased troop strength and appropriate equipment," he said.

Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan, said his government condemned the attack and called al Shabaab "extremists". Nigeria has pledged in the past to send troops to Somalia, but has yet to do so.

Uganda's President, Yoweri Museveni, told delegates his government was getting "good information" from suspects arrested after the bombings.

Diplomats at the summit told Reuters the heightened rhetoric might be a sign the AU was ready to give Amisom permission to chase down al Shabaab, a group with links to al-Qa'ida which wants to impose its own harsh version of sharia law in Somalia.

Some countries are against the policy change, citing evidence that Amisom has killed civilians. They argue that such incidents could be a recruitment boon to al Shabaab, which controls parts of the capital and much of southern Somalia.

At least six civilians were killed and 20 wounded in Mogadishu yesterday when a shell landed in a busy market. Witnesses said they had no idea where it came from. Since the start of the Islamist insurgency in Somalia in 2007, more than 21,000 civilians have been killed. Rights groups have accused all sides in the conflict of war crimes.

The US Attorney General, Eric Holder, said his government would share intelligence with Uganda and help catch the bombers. Dozens of American forensic scientists are combing the bomb sites in Kampala. "We are now bound not only by friendship and partnership but also by a shared loss, a shared threat, a shared grief," he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk