By LOLITA C. BALDOR
WASHINGTON (AP) – Growing concerns about persistent terrorist threats from splintered al-Qaida groups across Africa have triggered an increase in U.S. military funding and more focus on a handful of African nations.
Already this year, the Pentagon has poured more than $82 million into counterterrorism assistance for six African countries, with more than half of that going to Uganda, and much of the rest going to Kenya, Burundi and Djibouti – all key allies in the fight against the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab in Somalia.
The assistance, according to the State Department’s latest report on terrorism, may be starting to show some results in Somalia. But across Africa, the number of terrorist incidents increased by about 11.5 percent last year, including in Nigeria.
The new report comes as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton begins a series of visits across the continent, including stops in Uganda and Kenya.
The two countries are part of AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping force that has been battling al-Shabab militants and has succeeded in largely pushing the militants out of Mogadishu, Somalia, after years of raging war.
That military effort has helped to make significant gains in degrading al-Shabab’s capability and liberating areas from