Burundi said it would keep its 2,500 peacekeepers in Somalia despite threats from Islamists responsible for bomb attacks in neighbouring Uganda that killed 73 soccer fans.
The devastating twin blasts hit a crowded restaurant and a rugby club in Uganda’s capital Kampala on Sunday, during the last moments of the World Cup final, killing people watching the match on television, reports Reuters.
Al Shabaab militants in Somalia have threatened more attacks unless Uganda and Burundi withdraw their peacekeepers from Somalia, where the militants are fighting the government and control large parts of the country.
“There is no reason for us to withdraw our troops because al Shabaab attacked Kampala and plans to attack Bujumbura,” said Major General Godefroid Niyombare, Burundi’s army chief. “That would be (displaying a) yellow streak,” he told reporters.
The soldiers from the two east African countries make up the 6,100-strong African Union peacekeeping force known as AMISOM.
Niyombare appealed to other African countries to provide troops to help the Burundi and Uganda peacekeepers in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been bereft of central government for 20 years. “If we happen to oust terrorists from Somalia … The entire world will have achieved peace,” he said.
But analysts say the attacks may complicate efforts to strengthen AMISOM since countries would be reluctant to risk similar attacks by sending their troops.
Niyombare said Burundi forces were on high alert to prevent or face any attacks by al Shabaab, which has links with al Qaeda.