Turkey opens biggest overseas military base to train Somali soldiers

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Turkish army Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar (L) escorts Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire during an inauguration ceremony of the Turkish military base in Mogadishu on September 30, 2017. Turkey inaugurated the largest foreign-run military training centre in Somalia, where local troops are due to take over the protection of a nation threatened by Shabaab Islamist attacks. / AFP PHOTO / Mustafa ABDI

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar opened Turkey’s biggest overseas military base on Saturday in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers.

According to Reuters, more than 10,000 Somali soldiers will be trained by Turkish officers at the base, which cost Turkey $50 million to build.

At the opening ceremony on Saturday, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire thanked the Turkish government for opening the training school and said it would help the government “reconstruct” its national force — “not based on clan…not from a particular place, but well-trained forces that represent the Somali people.”

The Somali government has a number of foreign backers, including the United Nations, the African Union and the United States, who are assisting it in building a functional national army capable of taking on the fight against the militant al-Shabaab group.

The militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2010, but their deadly attacks remain one of the main obstacles to stability in the chaotic Horn of Africa country, which lies along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

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