The UN says the al-Shabab group is increasingly posing a serious international security threat [Reuters]

The United Nations has warned that Somalia insurgents are posing a serious international security threat and made a renewed appeal to the transitional government to end the civil conflict.

The rise of the al-Shabaab movement has raised concerns among western governments, in addition to the pirates operating out of Somalia ports.

Somalia will be in the spotlight during a debate at the Security Council on Thursday and a top level ministerial meeting on the conflict at the UN General Assembly summit next week.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said "horrific" suicide bomb attacks by al-Shabaab followers in Uganda in July had shown the growing threat from the al-Qaeda inspired group.

Some 76 people were killed in that attack.

'Security threat'

"The attacks demonstrated that al-Shabaab remains a serious security threat for Somalia, the sub-region and the wider international community," Ban said in a report to the Security Council on Monday.

The UN report said the Somali capital's "already weak health services are struggling to cope with casualties", citing thousands of reported deaths in Mogadishu this year.

A special envoy for Ban, Augustine Mahiga, an African Union envoy, Boubacar Diarra, and an East African peace envoy, Kipruto Arap Kirwa, were at Mogadishu airport on Thursday to meet Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the head of the transitional government, when a suicide bomber killed five people there.

The three envoys said on Monday the government is in disarray and warned that the divisions were "potentially very damaging" to efforts to end the chaos.

The transitional government is scheduled to end in August 2011, and analysts say it has achieved little so far.

Political battles

Repeated political battles in recent months have seen the president dissolve the cabinet and the parliament speaker resign.

"Somali forces and [AMISOM troops] risk their lives each day to protect the transitional federation institutions and defend the integrity of the peace process," the three envoys said in a statement released in Nairobi.

"The leaders and politicians need to demonstrate their unity of purpose to show they are working together to restore peace to Somalia."

Ban sent a similar message highlighting international efforts to promote peace in spite of the "internal disputes" and "political complications".

The UN chief said the international financial crisis has hit efforts to boost the African peacekeeping force.

"I remind all parties to the conflict that those found responsible for war crimes will face justice," Ban said.

"In that regard I support the proposal to document the most serious violations committed, as an essential step in the fight against impunity."

Source: Agencies