More African troops pledged for Somalia

African leaders are pledging thousands of new troops for Somalia to fight al Qaida-linked militants responsible for the twin World Cup bombings that killed 76 people, and the US said it will help bankroll the military campaign.

But internal documents show that that African Union forces and Somali troops do not trust one another, and that Somalia’s government “lacks consistency, coherence and coordination,” raising questions about whether more AU troops can solve the Somali impasse.

African leaders and US officials called for stepped-up efforts in Somalia as an African Union summit here concluded.

The summit opened only days after the July 11 bombings in Kampala, an attack that prompted Uganda’s president to call for Africa to band together against Somalia’s militants.

Al Shabab, Somalia’s most-feared militant group, claimed responsibility for bombing two sites where people were watching the World Cup final game on television, and said the blasts were in retaliation for civilian deaths caused by African Union troops in Mogadishu.

They also vowed to attack Burundi, the other African country that provided troops to the AU.

At the summit, Africa’s leaders voted to immediately dispatch 2,000 more Ugandan and Burundian troops to the African Union mission in Somalia, known as Amisom, boosting levels from 6,000 to the maximum mandate of 8,000.

The AU has commitments of 4,000 troops – 2,000 from Igad, a bloc of East African nations, and one battalion each from both Guinea and Djibouti, AU commission chairman Jean Ping said at the summit’s closing news conference.

The AU is considering a request to raise the ceiling number for the total number of troops, he said, without giving a figure for the rise.

America’s top official for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson, said that with a stronger AU force the African Union force could defeat al Shabab, which intelligence officials say has been bolstered by foreign fighters from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We believe that it is necessary to have more troops on the ground and we in Washington have committed ourselves to support additional troops on the ground in the same fashion that we have supported the existing Burundi and Ugandan troops,” Mr Carson said.

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