Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called for foreign air support to help root out Islamist militants in Somalia, one year after suicide bombings killed 79 people in his country’s capital city.
The blasts tore through two bars on July 11 while people were watching the World Cup soccer final on television, marking the first attacks on foreign soil by Somalia’s al-Qaeda-allied al Shabaab rebel group.
Museveni’s troops form the backbone of an African Union peacekeeping force that is all that prevents the rebels toppling the Somali government which is plagued by corruption, Reuters reports.
“This Somali problem appears to be a conservation project because of the one dimensional involvement: just involvement by the land forces. Why don’t we use the air? What is the air for?” Museveni said.
He said “international” air and sea support for AMISOM was necessary to defeat the Islamists and to fight piracy off Somali’s shores.
“Why does the international community preserve this? We are ready to solve this problem decisively,” Museveni said.
The United States carried out a drone attack in Somalia last month, killing one member of al Shabaab and wounding others, according to U.S. media reports.
The United States also carried out a helicopter strike in the chaotic country in 2009 but wider foreign involvement in the conflict has been limited, despite constant calls from the African Union for help from the United Nations.
Al Shabaab controls large parts of the country and pockets of the capital, and diplomats warn the conflict-torn horn-of-Africa nation is a potential launch pad for attacks further afield.
Since the bombing a year ago, Museveni has regularly goaded al Shabaab in public, calling them “idiots”, joking about their beards and urging them to 2go back to the Middle East.”
Several emotionally-charged remembrance services were held in Kampala on Monday to commemorate those killed in the bombings last year.