AU force in Somalia starts reducing troop numbersWed, 21 Jun 2023 09:30:56 GMT

The African Union’s mission in Somalia said Wednesday it had begun reducing troop numbers in line with plans to eventually hand over security to the troubled country’s national army.”The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia has started to drawdown in compliance with (UN Resolutions) which mandate ATMIS to drawdown 2,000 soldiers by the end of June 2023,” it said in a statement.The move comes despite continued deadly attacks by Al-Shabaab in the face of a major offensive by pro-government forces backed by ATMIS against the jihadist group.Only last month, 54 Ugandan peacekeepers were killed when Al-Shabaab fighters stormed an AU base located southwest of the capital Mogadishu in one of the deadliest attacks since the offensive was launched last year.Al-Shabaab has been waging a bloody insurgency against the fragile government in Mogadishu for more than 15 years, carrying out attacks both in Somalia and neighbouring countries.ATMIS in April last year replaced the previous mission known as AMISOM, which had a force of about 20,000 drawn from several nations including Burundi, Kenya and Uganda.It said it handed over a base operated by Burundian forces in Hirshabelle state in south-central Somalia to the Somali National Army.ATMIS has a more offensive remit than its predecessor, and calls for security to be assumed by Somalia’s army and police force by the end of 2024.Somalia, one of the poorest countries on the planet, has been mired in chaos since the fall of dictator Siad Barre’s military regime in 1991.