The United States has appealed against the downsizing of African Union troops in Somalia fearing escalation of extremist attacks.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) announced last week that following a decision by the AU and UN Security Council to hand over security responsibilities to the Somali Army, a thousand soldiers will be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2017.
The U.S. State Department told East African regional news portal The EastAfrican that the decision calls for concern and they are ready to continue their support for the mission until the time the Somali forces can 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,” said Wohlers Marion, Foreign Service Officer at the State Department.
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.
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.
He called for timely support for the Somali Army as it fights the Islamist insurgency which has heightened its attacks in the country.
Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed sought support from neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti to help launch an offensive against al Shabaab.
Uganda offered to send 5,000 extra troops to Somalia despite being the highest troop contributer to the country. Ethiopia and Djibouti had also made promises.
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 400 people when a truck carrying explosives was detonated at a busy junction in Mogadishu.
Somalia had appealed to the international community to lift the arms embargo imposed on it by the United Nations 25 years ago.
This has limited its soldiers from engaging in a swift offensive as they only carry light weapons to fight al Shabaab.
The jihadist group is still attacking as at least two bombings were recorded a week after the deadliest October 14 bomb blast.
AMISOM has 22,000 soldiers in Somalia. It is expected to fully withdraw by 2020.