July 11th, 2012: Somali troops with the support of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have this morning launched an operation to capture Lanta Buro village, the site of a major al Shabaab training camp.
LantaBuro, 40km west of Mogadishu, housed political prisoners during the Siad Barre regime but has since been converted into a major terrorist training camp by the Al Qaedaaffiliated Al-Shabaab. The move to take the camp comes at a critical time for the capital as it prepares to host a National Constituent Assembly which will adopt a provisional constitution and end 12 years of transitional government.
AMISOM Force Commander, Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti, said the operation would enhance security in the capital by denying the terrorists a base from which to launch attacks. “AMISOM is committed to supporting the peace process in Somalia and this operation will not only bring relief to the population in that particular area, but will also help create a safer environment in the capital,” he said. “Our aim is to ensure that the people of Somalia can continue to pursue national reconciliation free of the fear of terrorist attack,” he added.
Since the UN Security Council boosted AMISOM troop numbers to over 17,000, the force has been expanding outside Mogadishu and has helped the Somali government secure major strategic towns across the country including Afgooye, on the Shabelle river; Afmadow, the second largest city in the southern region of Lower Jubba; and most recently Balaad to the north of the capital. Additionally, AMISOM troops are present in Baidoa, the capital of the Bay region, and Beletweyne in the northern region of Hiiran.