Kampala: A top US official on Sunday
pledged continued support for African peacekeeping efforts in
war-torn Somalia, as Uganda`s president urged African leaders
to unite against terrorism just weeks after Somali militants
set off deadly twin bombings in Uganda.
President Yoweri Museveni told some 35 heads of state
that convened in Uganda`s capital for an African Union summit
that the continent needed to step up its efforts against
"Let us work in concert to sweep (terrorists) out of
Africa," he said.
The July 11 bombings in Kampala were claimed by an
al Qaeda-linked militant group in Somalia. The group,
al-Shabab, said the attacks were in retaliation for civilian
deaths caused by AU peacekeepers in Somalia. Al-Shabab has
also called on Somalis to fight AU peacekeepers.
US Attorney General Eric Holder, the top US
representative at the summit, said the US will continue to
support AU peacekeeping efforts in Somalia.
The AU mission in Somalia has about 6,000 troops from
Uganda and Burundi, but the force is expected to rise after
Guinea and Djibouti pledged additional forces.
"The United States applauds the heroic contributions
that are being made on a daily basis by Uganda and Burundian
troops," Holder said. "We pledge to maintain our support for
the AU and the AU Mission in Somalia."
Holder condemned the bombings in Uganda and said a
forensic team from the FBI is helping Ugandan authorities with
"Make no mistake, these attacks were nothing more than
reprehensible acts of cowardice inspired by a radical and
corrupt ideology," Holder said.
Museveni also told leaders his government had arrested
suspected organisers of the bombings and that interrogations
were yielding "good information."
The bombings were al-Shabab`s first attack outside
Somalia where last year they claimed responsibility for a
suicide bomb attack, among others, on a base of AU troops
protecting the weak UN-backed Somali government.
Both men spoke at a summit that planned to focus on
health issues, peace and security, infrastructure, energy and
food security. But the twin bombings two weeks ago and the
conflict in Somalia are likely to dominate many discussions at
the three-day summit.
Somalia has not had a functioning government for 20
years. The current administration holds a few blocks of the
capital and has been hampered by squabbling and corruption.
The president recently reshuffled the Cabinet but many
of the same officials remain and it is unclear how the new
administration intends to provide services or security.