, MOGADISHU, Jul 29 – Hardline Somali Islamist rebels promised on Thursday to turn Mogadishu into a graveyard for the extra troops African Union sends to boost its force in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.
Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage warned that beefing up the AU force currently made up of some 6,000 Ugandan and Burundian soldiers would only reinforce their jihad.
"The extra troops they said are planning to send here will not be different from those they deployed before. By the will of Allah, Mogadishu will be their graveyard, while their families will cry back home," Rage told reporters.
The pan-African body\’s commission chief Jean Ping announced on Tuesday at the end of a three-day summit in Kampala that they had received pledges for 4,000 troops for the Somalia force, also known as AMISOM.
"The apostate (Somalia transitional) government initially failed to convince its infidel masters to boost their military presence in Somalia, and now that they are claiming to be sending more troops to Mogadishu, it will only intensify the holy war against them," Rage said.
The embattled Somali government on Wednesday welcomed the AU\’s move to increase the troop numbers, saying it was key to improving security in Somalia and the whole region.
Somalia\’s Al Qaeda-linked Shabab demonstrated their regional threat when they claimed responsibility for bomb blasts that killed 76 people in the Ugandan capital on July 11.
The militants said the blasts were to punish Uganda for its lead role in the AMISOM.
The attacks brought an urgency among African leaders to bolster AMISOM, faced with relentless attacks by the radical militia since deploying in Mogadishu in early 2007.
However, some observers worry that more robust operations by AMISOM in Mogadishu would further expose a civilian population that has already borne the brunt of the fighting.
Thousands have died this year alone and hundreds of thousands been displaced in recent years, making Mogadishu one of the world\’s most dangerous cities and Somalia the scene of one of its worst humanitarian disasters.
Previous military intervention by United States and the United Nations have not been able to crush the insurgency in Somalia, which has been without an effective government for two decades.