Joint AU/Somali patrols against al-Shabaab upped, drawdown notwithstanding

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Troop drawdowns in the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) have not put an end to its mandate of halting Al-Shabaab terror group attacks.

The second withdrawal of troops this year is currently underway and scheduled for completion by month-end leaving ATMIS a further three thousand troops lighter in personnel strength. The withdrawal is in line with a United Nations (UN) resolution which saw 2 000 personnel, the majority military, exit the East African country in June.

Colonel Christopher Berochan, Commander Battle Group 38 from ATMIS Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) contingent based in Barawe said stepping up joint patrols with the Somali Security Forces (SSF) provided proactive and reactive responses to “activities” threatening peace and security in the Lower Shabelle region.

“We’ve redoubled efforts in joint operations with SSF to combat threats posed by Al-Shabaab in Barawe and environs,” he said, assuring residents of the African Union (AU) troops continued support and emphasising the battle group will continue working with the SSF.

Barawe, 200km south-west of Mogadishu, is the main port of South West State and in the ATMIS area of responsibility.

Berochan’s assertion that teamwork will be critical in ensuring Barawe district remains safe was echoed by Barawe District Commissioner, Omar Sheikh Abdi Shafana.

“The importance of these patrols is to foil Al-Shabaab’s planned attacks and we are determined to maintain the tempo and ensure it doesn’t happen in Barawe,” the District Commissioner, a participant in the joint patrols, said.

The Barawe district has been peaceful since 2014 when it was liberated from Al-Shabaab who used the coastal town as a launchpad for terrorist activities in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

ATMIS and SSF stepped up patrols after intelligence brought to light heightened Al-Shabaab activities in the Lower Shabelle region.