Experts warn of further Uganda attacks
A Ugandan base where European Union troops are training Somali fighters to defend their fragile government is the next likely target for an attack by the same group that struck the capital Sunday night, experts on the region say.
“Kampala should be taken as a real warning,” says Joseph Sala, a former State Department official who keeps close tabs on East Africa. “Look for the base at Bihanga to be hit.”
Evidently EU forces training Somalis at Bihanga, about 200 miles west of Kampala, are taking the warnings seriously. The EU team is reinforcing security at the base, according to CNN.
Al-Shabab, the Somali militia that claimed responsibility for Monday’s deadly bombings at a Kampala rugby club and at a restaurant, which left about 80 people dead including an American citizen, vowed on July 5 to attack Uganda and Burundi. Troops from those countries make up the majority of an African Union mission on Somalia.
Its fighters "are trained by militant veterans of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq," according to reports, linking it to al-Qaeda.
"The Uganda attacks represent the first time the jihadi group al-Shabab has carried out an attack outside of Somalia," terrorism analyst Daveed Gartenstein-Ross wrote on the Fox News Web site. "Doing so represents a political calculation on the group’s part: Uganda is one of only two countries (the other being Burundi) that have devoted troops to the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), a U.N.-sanctioned peacekeeping mission. AMISOM is meant to stabilize Somalia’s transitional federal government, which Shabaab is fighting to overthrow."
Sala described the situation in the Horn of Africa, and Somalia in particular, as chaotic.
Shabab is fighting Hizb-i-Islam, another fundamentalist group in Somalia, he noted.
“Both oppose the U.S.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu. The North of Somalia wants to separate. Puntland wants to separate. Eritrea is under sanctions for supporting Islamists. There’s a threat from al-Shabab to northern Kenya. Uganda is still fighting the LRA [the Lord’s Resistance Army, essentially large bands of looters]. And Southern Sudan is holding a referendum early next year” that could reignite full scale civil war.
“The political situation too fluid to discern the end game,” Sala said.
Posted by: Dawitom | July 14, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse
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