U.S. steps up training for African force in Somalia

Tue May 1, 2012 3:51pm GMT

* Al Shabaab weakened by attacks on several fronts

* Somali government relies on African Union troops

* AU force hopes to take more territory outside capital

By Jocelyn Edwards

SINGO, Uganda, May 1 (Reuters) - At a training camp in Uganda, a dozen soldiers crouch, weapons raised as they make their way down a dirt road between shipping containers set up to look like buildings in the Somali capital.

Standing by, observing the Ugandan troops at work, is a U.S. marine, Major Mark Haley.

"Here is where we are going to teach urban warfare, how to fight building to building," Haley said as the Ugandans moved between containers scrawled with graffiti reading "City of Death" and "Hell Zone".

The model of the Somali capital, or "Little Mogadishu" as it is known, was built by American military trainers to prepare the Ugandan soldiers to take part in the African Union mission propping up the Western-backed government in Mogadishu.

After al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels pulled out of the capital last year, the United States has stepped up efforts to train Ugandan soldiers who will be part of the push by AMISOM to take more territory outside the capital.   Continued...

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