Turkey gives weapons, training to Somali soldiers - VOA

Somali Defence Minister Mohamed Ali Haga said Turkish government supplies weapons to the Somali army, U.S. public broadcaster Voice of America reported.

Over 400 soldiers received small weapons and machine guns after finishing their training at the Turkish military camp in Mogadishu, Haga said.

The country is under a partial UN embargo and cannot import certain heavy weaponry, VOA wrote.

The weapons exported to Somalia are the Turkey-made MPT-76 rifles, it said.

The Somali army is undermanned, and underequipped, while it is preparing to take over the fight against extremist jihadist group Al Shabaab, VOA wrote.

African Union peacekeeping forces were deployed in the country in 2006, after a militant Islamist group called Islamic Courts Union assumed control over much of the southern part of Somalia.

The Turkish military base in Mogadishu was opened on September 30, and Turkey plans to train as many as 10,000 soldiers, Somali officials told VOA.

“Turkish military has advanced NATO training,” Haga was quoted by VOA as saying. “Turkey is a brotherly country which came to help Somalia at time of need in terms of humanitarian assistance as well as military.”

Apart from Turkey, United States, United Arab Emirates, UK, EU, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda have also been providing training to the Somali Army, VOA said.