European Union offers to train Somali troops as fighting breaks out

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heavy fighting has broken out in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. As troops clash with Islamic fighters the European Union has said it will train 2,000 more soldiers for the country.

One major battle erupted at a base used by Burundian troops. African peacekeepers as well as local soldiers working for the transitional government fought back, according to eyewitnesses. Heavy artillery was used this morning. Soldiers in Somaliland found explosives which later went off, killing at least three people.

Somaliland's deputy governor, Mohamed Abdi Dimbil, said locals had discovered the bombs and handed them over to soldiers. They detonated while the soldiers still had them, causing the deaths as well as injuries.

EU foreign ministers in Brussels responded to the clashes. A joint statement read: "The EU should ... continue to help stabilise Somalia by providing support to vital and priority areas such as the security sector, development, assistance to the population and capacity-building support. In this context, the Council agreed to set up a military mission to contribute to training of Somali security forces."

Spain will lead the mission and France has pledged troops as well. Britain, Slovenia, Greece, and Hungary are expected to participate, according to Reuters.