AU’s Somalia mission starts 2nd phase of troop withdrawal

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) announced Sunday that it has begun the second phase of a drawdown of its peacekeeping troops from Somalia.

ATMIS said the second phase of its withdrawal started with the handover of the Biyo Cadde Forward Operating Base to the Somali National Armed Forces.

The base, which is located in the southern province of Middle Shabelle, was housing a Burundi National Defense Forces contingent serving under the command of ATMIS.

Lt. Col. Philip Butoyi, a commander from ATMIS, officially handed over the base to National Armed Forces representative Maj. Muhudin Ahmed on Sunday, according to an official statement issued by the peacekeeping mission.

Preparations for the second phase involving the withdrawal of 3,000 ATMIS troops by the end of September started last month.

The first batch of 2,000 peacekeeping troops left the country earlier this year as part of the Somalia Transition Plan (STP), a guide developed by the Somali government and its partners to transfer security responsibility to the Somali Armed Forces.

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, previously known as AMISOM and currently ATMIS, is a multidimensional mission authorised by the African Union and mandated by the UN Security Council to operate in the Horn of Africa country since 2007.

The mission aims to assist the Somali government in its war against the al-Shabaab terrorist group.

Al-shabaab has increased its attacks since Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected for a second term last year, declared an “all-out war” against them.

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