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African Union Commences the Second Phase of Pulling Troops Out of Somalia

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The African Union has announced that the second phase of its troop withdrawal from Somalia has begun. The withdrawal is timed to coincide with the handover of security to the country’s government, which is fighting Al Qaeda’s East African affiliate, the Somalia-based Al Shabab.

The UN Security Council overwhelmingly approved a new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, known as ATMIS, last year to support Somalis until their troops take full responsibility for the country’s security by the end of 2024.

The mission hopes to withdraw at least 3,000 more troops by the end of the month, from the original 19,626-strong AU deployment. In the first phase, 2,000 AU forces from various member states left Somalia in June, handing over six forward operating bases.

On Sunday, the Burundian contingent turned over the Biyo Adde forward operating base in south-central Hirshabelle state, near Mogadishu, to the Somali national army. Lt. Col. Philip Butoyi, the commander, praised the Somali soldiers’ progress.

“We have witnessed developments on the battlefield where Somali Security Forces have demonstrated their increasing capability to secure the country. We have seen the forces attack, seize, and hold ground,” the mission quoted Butoyi as saying. 

Maj. Muhudiin Ahmed of the Somali Army commended the Burundian troops for putting their “lives on the line and shedding blood to defend our land against the enemy.”

 According to a UN decision, the withdrawal will take place in three stages and will be finished by December 2024. Last year, Somalia’s government declared “total war” on Al Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked terror group that controls sections of rural central and southern Somalia and earns millions of dollars through “taxation” of citizens and extortion of companies.

For more than a decade, the Al Shahab terror group has carried out dreadful operations while exploiting clan rivalries and extorting millions of dollars annually.

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