Somalia seeks US help over ‘al-Shabab uranium mining’
Tomi Oladipo-BBC Monitoring’s Africa security correspondent
Somali’s government has made a startling request for “immediate military assistance” to prevent Islamist militants al-Shabab from supplying uranium to Iran.
In a letter, Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad says the militants have captured a region with uranium deposits and have been strip mining the components.
Somalia is said to have the potential for uranium, according to past findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but this has not been developed.
The claim, which has not been independently verified, has not revealed how this artisanal mining of uranium works and what evidence it has to prove that al-Shabab is working on it or plans to send the deposits to Iran.
The letter also described al-Shabab as being linked with the so-called Islamic State, when in fact it has been long associated with al-Qaeda.
It also says that the current problem is too big even for the African Union forces based in Somalia.
The State Department has not responded to the letter but according to US media has confirmed it did receive it.
Analysts suggest this letter is intended to attract a larger US military presence to Somalia where al-Shabab is waging a violent campaign.