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Kenya readies Somali Kismayo attack
by Staff Writers
Nairobi, Kenya (UPI) Sep 5, 2012

Rebel chief returns to Chad after surrender
N'Djamena (AFP) Sept 5, 2012 - Chad's FPR rebel chief Abdel Kader Baba Ladde, who was wanted by his country's army, landed in the capital Ndjamena Wednesday, days after turning himself in to Central African armed forces.

The leader of the Popular Front for Recovery (FPR) arrived in Ndjamena aboard a UN plane and was welcomed by Chad's Public Security Minister Ahmat Bachir, an AFP journalist reported.

"I'm pleased to be back home in Chad, I hope the rest will follow," Baba Ladde said, adding that "the FPR did not come (to Chad) to make political demands".

"We have no demands, our wish is for peace in our country and throughout the subregion," he said.

Baba Ladde, who claims to fight for the Fula tribe whose people are spread over many African countries, surrendered Sunday in Central Africa after negotiations with the United Nations and other groups.

"We're happy to have accompanied Baba Ladde home," said Central African mediator Paulin Pomodimo on Wednesday.

He added that Chad officials had guaranteed the rebel chief's physical well-being.

Fleeing Chad military offensives in 2008, the FPR fighters entered Central Africa, where they were accused of terrorising villagers and pillaging.

In August last year, Pomodimo said he had persuaded Baba Ladde to return to Ndjamena but the former general refused to enter negotiations with Chadian officials without a UN presence.

After joint Chadian and Central African troops attacked FPR bases in the northern Kaga Bandoro region in January, Baba Ladde was said to have fled to Sudan.

Kenyan military officials in Somalia are planning to attack the port city of Kismayo, which is a stronghold of the militant group al-Shabaab.

In October 2011, Kenyan forces invaded southern Somalia with the stated purpose of dismantling al-Shabaab. The forces are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union in June. U.N. Security Council Resolution 2036 four months earlier authorized the expansion of AMISOM from 12,000 soldiers to just more than 17,700. Under AMISOM's policy, 5,000 Kenyan forces were reassigned to Sector 2, Middle and Lower Juba, to work alongside troops from Sierra Leone.

The Kismayo assault comes as Somali members of Parliament prepare to choose a new president under a U.N.-brokered peace plan in an election scheduled for Monday.

In August militant al-Shabaab Islamic insurgents lost control of Merca, Somalia's third biggest port city after Mogadishu and Kismayo, to AU and pro-Somali government forces.

With 2,050 miles of shoreline on the Indian Ocean, Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, and analysts state that the capture of Kismayo will boost Somali government revenue and improve trade between Somalia and the rest of the world.

Two months ago Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga appealed to the United States and European Union for fiscal assistance for a "final onslaught" by on Kismayo. Kenya first sent troops under AMISOM command in 2011, with Nairobi justifying the deployment by stating that it wanted al-Shabaab defeated because the militants threatened its Kenyan security.

Kismayo is al-Shabaab's last stronghold in Somalia after the fall of Marka and Afmadhow in the Juba area, The Star newspaper reported on Tuesday.

In 2011 al-Shabaab, which is affiliated to al-Qaida, withdrew from Mogadishu after heavy fighting with AMISOM and Somali government forces. As Kenyan AMISOM forces have moved through southern Somalia, al-Shabaab has mostly avoided engaging them in direct combat.

Kismayo may prove different however, as it is the center of al-Shabaab's finances. Al-Shabaab may prove unable to repel a direct assault however and analysts say that its guerrillas may continue to disperse to rural areas in southern Sudan or to other countries in the Horn of Africa.

There are worries that al-Shabaab may choose to use targeted killings in Kismayo if they believe that they are losing the city to terrorize the city's occupants from co-operating with AMISOM, especially as these types of retaliatory attacks have been increasing in the capital Mogadishu and accordingly AMISOM must be prepared to protect the civilian population if this tactic is employed in Kismayo.

The Kenyan Somali deployments have given the Kenyan contingent of AMISOM combat experience beyond previous perceptions of its being a relatively untested "career army" that might soon gain experience in urban guerrilla warfare should al-Shabaab decide to defend Kismayo. As a result of its AMISOM Somali deployments Kenya is becoming an important element in an increasingly successful, coordinated regional effort to address security problems, which ultimately may provide Somalia's Transitional Federal Government the political and economic space it needs to consolidate its progress in Somalia.

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Weapons destined for Mali held up in Guinea since July
Conakry (AFP) Sept 5, 2012 - Weapons destined for Mali which were bought by the country's ousted regime have been held in Guinea since July due to a request from a regional bloc, the state minister for defence said Wednesday.

"I don't yet know the nature of these weapons but hold that they are weapons of war originating from Bulgaria," bought by the regime of ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure, said state minister Abdoul Kabele Camara.

"As soon as we were informed of the arrival of this boat, the Guinean president (Alpha Conde) contacted his peers from ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) and it was at that moment that the decision to receive the boat was taken," he told AFP.

"There were really many containers in the boat and the transport and other costs are being borne by ECOWAS."

Camara said the weapons were kept in Guinea "because, in the meantime, the government changed hands and we didn't know which hands they were going to fall into" if they were sent on to Mali.

Toure was ousted on March 22 after a decade in power, and just six weeks before an election in which he was not taking part.

The coup was carried out by angry soldiers who accused his government of "incompetence" in dealing with a Tuareg rebellion which broke out in January, and completely overwhelmed the ill-equipped army.

As a result of the coup, the Tuareg and armed Islamist groups were able to seize control of the vast north, an area larger than France or Texas.

The jihadists have since sidelined the desert nomad rebels and taken firm control, enforcing strict sharia law in northern towns.


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Weapons destined for Mali held up in Guinea since July
Conakry (AFP) Sept 5, 2012
Weapons destined for Mali which were bought by the country's ousted regime have been held in Guinea since July due to a request from a regional bloc, the state minister for defence said Wednesday. "I don't yet know the nature of these weapons but hold that they are weapons of war originating from Bulgaria," bought by the regime of ousted leader Amadou Toumani Toure, said state minister Abdou ... read more

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