The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has vowed to carry on with plans to deploy additional troops to Somalia despite threats of attack from Al-Shabaab insurgents who bombed two premises in Kampala killing 74 people on Sunday.
This came as fears of repeat attacks spread, with security analysts saying a step-up on the war on Al-Shabaab insurgency could trigger grave consequences should the group retaliate.
Al-Shabaab militants in anarchic Somalia had already threatened to attack Uganda for sending peacekeeping troops to prop up its fragile, Western-backed government.
But IGAD members including Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti last week resolved to increase the number of peacekeepers serving inside the Horn of Africa nation to about 8,100.
“We shall not allow criminals to break our hearts because doing so only gives them the strength to commit more evil,” IGAD executive secretary Mahboub Maalim told journalists in Nairobi on Tuesday. “We shall continue with our plans to increase peacekeepers in Somalia to over 8000 and we hope to have the extra troops in the country by the second week of August,”
This came as regional security analysts called for a “visible and tougher” action against the insurgents who have been blamed for the Sunday’s Kampala bombings.
“We plan to eventually push the number to about 20,000 so as to cover the entire country,” Maalim said. The extra troops are expected both from the African Union (AU) and the United Nations.
He said there is need for a “redoubled effort’ to repel Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, with the neighbouring countries, working in concert with Africa Union peacekeeping force there, AMISOM, to pressurise the Somali Transitional Federal Government to go after Al-Shabaab in rural areas of southern and central Somalia.
Dr Joshua Kivuva, a political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi said because of the diverse problems Somali frontline countries and regional members like Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Sudan face, there is need to enlist more support from foreign forces.
Kenya has avoided taking a more direct role in helping Somalia Transitional Federal Government to quell the threat of Al-Shabaab that controls most of Somalia and the capital Mogadishu.
But analysts said with the attacks that could destabilize the economy and political situation, the country may be prompted to become more directly involved.
The most controversial role Kenya has taken is to train about 3,000 troops to help Somalia but even these soldiers are still held-up in the northern part of the country after difference emerged with Ethiopia on where they should be deployed.
Another analyst, Chris Abong’o, a lecture at the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies said the attacks if confirmed to have been staged by the insurgents will be “costly to the group” because it is a direct affront to neighbouring sovereign states with their own armies.
He said more attacks on Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia –all countries that have been threatened in the past by the militant group – may result in immediate military response.