The European Union says it has reinforced security at the training base it runs in Uganda for Somali soldiers, in the wake of the Kampala terrorist attacks Sunday.
An EU military training team is putting a total of 911 Somali recruits through their paces at a camp in Bihanga, in the hills of south-west Uganda. A Portuguese squad is training the recruits to fight in built-up areas, while French and Spanish trainers are developing an officer corps.
A European official told CNN that while security at the base was being tightened, the attacks in Kampala would not affect the program. She said the attacks – in which 74 people were killed – underlined the need for the training, so that a new Somali army could confront Islamic extremists. The al Qaeda affiliate Shabaab, which is fighting to overthrow the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks.
The EU Training Mission began in April and will train a total of 2,000 Somali soldiers. Each batch of about 1,000 goes through a six-month course. Fourteen member-states are contributing to the mission.
At the moment government troops in Somalia control just a few blocks in the capital, Mogadishu – and rely on African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi for support in almost daily street battles with Shabaab, which occupies large parts of the city.