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British troops train Ugandan soldiers combating Islamic militants

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Corporal Chris Carmichael briefs Ugandan Marines in Entebbe, Uganada (Owen Humphreys/PA)


British troops have been training their Ugandan counterparts to help them prepare for a difficult peacekeeping deployment where they will fight the Islamist militants, al-Shabab.

Uganda is the biggest contributor to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) – with 5,000 personnel forming part of the 20,000-strong force.

Created in 2007, Amisom has been at the forefront of efforts to tackle the extremists who want to topple the western-backed government.

During their deployment, marines from the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF), will protect the area and sea around Mogadishu airport in the Somali capital.

For more than a month, eight Royal Marines under the 1 Assault Group have been working on the water and beaches of Lake Victoria in Entebbe, Uganda, sharing their vital skills.

This has included lessons in how to use boats tactically in the littoral environment – the shore area – conduct patrols, operate vehicle checkpoints as well as stopping and searching suspect craft.

Royal Marines Reservist, Corporal Chris Carmichael from Crosby, Merseyside, told PA: “When they are over there (in Somalia) they will be based on the water and potentially coming on to land as well to do vehicle checkpoints.

“So from there we have been able to teach them the skills of how to protect themselves, how to insert properly – tactically into a situation – how to search the vehicles properly, how to detain people if necessary and obviously extract back on to the sea and away if needs be.”

Their training has also involved human security and gender issues, featuring tips on spotting, dealing with and talking to potential victims of trafficking, slavery and other forms of exploitation.

Captain Jacob Katumba of the UPDF marines said these skills will help them identify potential “wrongdoers and innocents” and how to handle these situations during their 12-month deployment.

“We have really learnt about those things and we are really confident with them and can apply them on the ground,” he said.

The al Qaida-linked al-Shabab controls vast swathes of rural areas in southern Somalia, and has carried out multiple bombings and guerilla attacks on targets including shopping centres and hotels across eastern Africa.

Al-Shabab was formed in 2006, emanating from the Islamic Courts Union that ran the Somali capital, for six months before being driven from power.

Captain Isaac Vunya, a UPDF training officer, said al-Shabab often gets intelligence from local fishermen about Amison, will attack when supplies are taken to forward operating bases and that many roads are littered with landmines.

Witnessing an improvement in his troops’ skills, he said it is difficult to fight al-Shabab who use different tactics to their own – including using women and children to carry out suicide attacks.

—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: August 05, 2019 at 03:42PM

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