U.S. appeals against withdrawal of AU troops from Somalia

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In this handout pictured released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team, Ethiopian soldiers ready themselves for departure after a ceremony in Baidoa, Somalia (AFP Photo)

The United States has appealed against the withdrawal of African Union troops in Somalia warning that extremism could escalate in the region if the withdrawal goes through.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced last week that 1,000 soldiers will be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2017, following a decision by the AU and UN Security Council to hand over security responsibilities to Somalia army.

The U.S. State Department  has said that the decision calls for concern and promised their support for the mission until Somalia forces are ready to take over.

“We do not support further drawdown of forces beyond that level at this time, due to ongoing security concerns. The United States supports a conditions-based Amisom drawdown that is tied to the development of capable, professional Somali security forces.” Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, Wohlers Marion said, the Africa news reports.

AMISOM chief Francisco Madeiro had said that the withdrawal will be gradual and 500 police officers will be deployed to train and mentor the Somali Police who will enforce law and order in the country.

Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya and Djibouti form bulk of the multinational peacekeeping force first deploy to the country in 2007 to end an armed insurgency that’s now entered its tenth year.

It has extended Mogadishu’s control across the country but leaves behind a militant group now ranked the deadliest in Africa.

Authorities have over the years been training thousands of troops that are expected to replace AU soldiers who’ve waged a ten-year campaign against al-Shabaab – the al-Qaeda proxy in the Horn of Africa.

The withdrawal will see five countries reduce their troops by four per cent. Each of them will contribute to the 500 police officers needed to train the Somali Police Force.

Al Shabaab has killed thousands of civilians and soldiers through car and suicide bombings as it seeks to topple the western-backed government and impose its strict version of the Sharia law.

Its deadliest attack on October 14 killed at least 350 people when a truck carrying explosives was detonated at a busy junction in Mogadishu.

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