Uganda Begins Somalia Troop Withdrawal

The first batch of Ugandan peacekeeping troops withdrawing from Somalia have arrived home, a military spokesman said here on Thursday.

Uganda's phased withdrawal of its peacekeepers from the 22,000 strong regional force is in compliance with the African Union and United Nations approved reduction of 1,000 uniformed personnel of AMISOM by the December 31 deadline.

AMISOM now has 20,000 soldiers serving with the organisation and Uganda the biggest contributor has 6,000 soldiers in total serving with the mission.

Uganda on Monday announced the withdrawal of 281 peacekeepers as part of condition-based drawdown of its over 6,000 troops deployed in the Horn of Africa country.

It is unknown why the African countries and the African Union have made a decision to withdraw troops at this time.

The other troop contributing countries which are also expected to reduce their numbers by the deadline are Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

But the Somali military has struggled to rid the country of Al Shabaab militants, and smaller and growing numbers of Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists, despite being supported by the AU and the United States who continue to carry out air strikes against Al Shabaab.

Al Shabaab's resurging strength has been attributed to the use of more home-made and sophisticated explosives, the political fallout between the federal government and state governors and a split in the intelligence services.

The US has already increased its troop numbers in the country to more than 500 and stepped up airstrikes - boosting its co-operation with the Somali military.

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