Amisom announces troops build-up ahead of Shabaab offensive

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Amisom is re-aligning its troop’s compositions in the country ahead of major offensive against Al-Shabaab and in line with its draw-down strategy, the mission has said.

Amisom Chief Francisco Madeira said Saturday the realignment of the troops was part of the force’s transitioning strategy of responsibilities to Somali forces.

“The realignment of our troops in forward operating bases across the Sectors including the movement of Ethiopian military contingents who are currently seen crossing the border from and into Somalia, represents calculated activities, in readiness for the transitioning of security responsibilities to the Somali National Security Forces.”

Madeira said the troop’s movement will not affect provision of existing security services noting the movements will continues over the coming weeks.

Amisom spokesman Lt. Col Wilson Rono told HornAfrik the adjustments will largely affect sector three which is under Ethiopian forces. Sector 3 covers south western Somali regions.

“Amisom re-aligns its positions based on threats and plans. This will mainly happen in sector three but there wouldn’t be much movement in other sectors,” said Rono. “We have timelines and instructions from African Union and the UN and these movements are informed by those instructions as we prepare for a draw-down.”

Regarding the incoming Ethiopian troops, Col. Rono said he could not confirm if they are under Amisom command or not but noted, “You are aware Somalia has bilateral agreements with Kenya and Ethiopia for non-Amisom troops.”

“You will recall President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo was in Ethiopia last week and they may have discussed the issue of increased troops.”

Col. Rono however stated the troop’s movement is also based on the President Mohamed Farmaajo’s plan for major offensive against Al-Shabaab following the twin terror attacks in Mogadishu last month that left over 400 people dead.

“President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has also given instructions to Somali National Army and to Amisom as well for an operation.”

President Farmaajo is still holding talks with heads of state governments in what is expected to unveil a new military road-map for Al-Shabaab offensive.

Meanwhile Gedo deputy commissioner Osman Noah Haji confirmed the Ethiopia troops are now heading to Lower Shabelle regions.

“Every Somali knows the mobilization of war announced earlier by the Somali president Farmaajo. The Ethiopian troops are part of Amisom to strengthen the battle against Al-Shabaab. The troops are heading to Afgoye town, Lower Shabelle awaiting further instructions.” said Haji.

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