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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Y1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Y1 Teacher required for a So...

Senior Financial Services Associate - City

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - FINANCIAL SERVICES - Senior...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week