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October 8, 2010

Somali Militants Using Children As Suicide Bombers-AU Official

|Medeshivalley.com|


KAMPALA, Uganda -(Dow Jones)- Somalia's al Qaeda-inspired al Shabab militants have in recent weeks resorted to abducting children to serve as fighters and suicide bombers, an African Union military spokesman said Thursday.
Major Barigye Ba-Hoku, a spokesman for the union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia, said al Shabab militants were "desperate" after a failed offensive during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. During the fighting in August and September, AU-backed government forces regained control of many key positions, he said.
"To compensate for their current weakness and lack of support from the local communities, whom they have brutalized, the militants have resorted to abducting and brainwashing children to serve as fighters and suicide bombers. This is against all civilized norms and international conventions," Ba-Hoku said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment from the al Shabab.
Ba-Hoku also said divisions within the al Shabab leadership have forced the militants to withdraw many of their forces from the Somali capital Mogadishu and other important towns, under pressure from AU troops.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni Wednesday called on Western nations and wealthy African countries to support a significant troop increase in Somalia to support the weak Somali transitional government.
Earlier Museveni said Uganda was ready to provide 20,000 troops for the new mission but would need financial and logistical support.
Uganda already supplies most of the more than 7,000 AU troops in Somalia, where they are helping the government battle insurgent groups that are trying to turn the country into a strict Islamic state.
Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the July 11 attacks in Kampala that killed at least 76 people. The twin blasts at a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant popular with foreigners were carried out by suicide bombers

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