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Top Sierra Leone defense official vows not to withdraw troops from Somalia despite threats

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Sierra Leone would not withdraw its military personnel from Somalia despite threats from the Al- Shabaab group, the country's top defense official said here Monday.

"Sierra Leone has become part of the troops contributing countries because we were bound by the African Union (AU) declaration," said Alfred Paolo Conteh, Sierra Leone's defense minister.

It was the country's "payback" to Africa for what it did in helping Sierra Leone fight a 10-year civil war, which ended in 2002, he added.

"What affects one African country affects other countries in Africa; if we sit down and see Somalia go down, it will have a spillover effect on us," Conteh said.

Al-Shabaab group is a Somalia-based cell of the militant Islamist group Al-Qaeda.

Sierra Leone has about 800 military personnel and 55 police in Somalia. Another batch of 150 police personnel will shortly depart for Somalia.


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