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EXCLUSIVE: The Former Al Shabaab Killing Zone That's Now Used By The British Military

All this week we’ve been bringing you a series of exclusive reports from Somalia, where the UK military is helping to train African forces...

All this week we’ve been bringing you a series of exclusive reports from Somalia, where the UK military is helping to train African forces fighting Islamist militants.

Forces News reporter Simon Newton, and camera person Hannah King have been on the ground in Somalia, exploring just how the UK forces are helping to make a difference in this war-torn nation.

In a small corner of Mogadishu Airport, there is an area that, until a few years ago, was a killing zone for Al Shabaab snipers.

Now it’s the place where British troops teach African Union soldiers the basics of combat engineering, i.e. how to build Hesco walls, barbed wire defences, two-man trenches.

Several dozen British soldiers are in Somalia with the UN, teaching and advising African Union troops in a range of military skills.

Their commanding officer Lt Col Martin Leach, knows this mission, which is known as Op Catan, isn’t without its dangers, but the rewards are high:

"I think what we need to do is realise that there’s still a threat here. We have to be very careful, and take a lot of precautions in the places we go.

"At the same time we’re making considerable progress, every day and every week.

"We’re building up the strength of the Somalian national army so that they can get this country back up on its feet again."

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British troops are there also teaching basic motor maintenance.

The African Union troops have vehicles but lack the ability to maintain and repair them, meaning that dozens of rusting armoured personnel carriers lay dormant, cannibalised for parts.

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The African Union Mission to Somalia, known as AMISOM, began in 2007, and currently, there are more than 20,000 troops in the country from five neighbouring nations.

Many of the troops the British are teaching have completed several tours of Somalia.

Mahoozi Emmanual joined the army 12 years ago and this is his fourth time in Mogadishu:

“I’m sure now Al Shabaab has no power anymore like it had in the past.

“We have tried to banish them, but a few remnants have remained within the town disturbing us with IEDs.

“Actually we’ve tried very hard to overrun Al Shabaab from Mogadishu town.”

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The exact number of African Union troops killed or injured in Somalia has never been fully revealed, but one study put it at more than a thousand.

It’s one of the reasons the lessons in combat medicine provided by the British Army, are so valuable.

AMISOM is about to take delivery of its first drone, gifted by the US Government, and British troops are here teaching them how to use it effectively.

Soldiers from the Royal Logistic Corps are also teaching these Ugandan quartermasters how to supply an army.

From combat construction to frontline first aid, the span of teaching being offered by the British military here is impressive.

And for their students, refining these basic skills can make a big difference, helping to improve them, their armies and the security of Somalia itself.

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