African Union force hands over bases in Somalia


The African Union (AU) force in Somalia has handed over three more military bases to the Somali army as part of a gradual withdrawal meant to conclude by the end of next year.

By the end of June the plan is to withdraw around 2,000 troops from Somalia.

Tuesday’s handover took place in Adale, Mirtaqwa and Hajji Ali, in the Middle Shabelle region, bases which fell under the control of the mission’s Burundian contingent.

So far this year the AU force has handed over six military bases, five of them in Middle Shabelle.

The first base, located in Heliwa district of the capital, Mogadishu, was handed over on 22 January. It was also run by Burundian forces.

It is not clear how many AU soldiers have already been withdrawn from Somalia.

Somalia has been training new soldiers in Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea to replace some 19,000 AU troops currently deployed.

This is happening as Somalia prepares for the second phase of a major military offensive against al-Shabab.

The al-Qaeda-linked militant group has released a new video showing the graduation of hundreds of new fighters.-BBC


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