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Africa must tackle terrorism, leaders warn

Ugandan soldiers serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia patrol in a formation near the Jilacow underground cell inside a national security compound after an attack by suspected militants in Mogadishu August 31, 2014. (REUTERS/Feisal Omar)

NAIROBI: African leaders said Tuesday that the continent must work together to end the "scourge" of terrorism, amid fears of a growing extremist threat on the continent.

The African Union summit in the Kenyan capital began hours after a U.S. airstrike in neighboring Somalia reportedly targeted the commander of the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, one of several extremist groups plaguing the continent.

"We are concerned about the peace and stability of our continent," Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno said, as he opened the summit as chairman of the AU Peace and Security Council.

"The attacks in the Sahel region, terrorist acts of the Boko Haram in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa... only motivate us to intensify efforts to combat this scourge," he said.

"Terrorism and organized crime compels us to take common action."

Hosted by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, heads of state at the summit include Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, who both face Islamist insurgencies in their nations.

In Somalia, U.S. airstrikes Monday reportedly targeted top Shabab commander Ahmed Abdi Godane, after AU and government forces launched a fresh offensive Friday to seize key southern ports.

Kenyatta said the "Shabab continues to pose a serious threat in the region."

The one-day summit aims to review AU efforts to "combat terrorism in Africa", organizers said, as well as to find "practical steps" to boost the 54-member bloc's counter-terrorism efforts.

 

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