BRUSSELS - The European Union has increased security precautions for its military advisers in Somalia after the deadly attack by Somali Islamists on a Kenyan shopping mall, it said on Thursday.
The EU has 120 military experts, split between the Somali capital Mogadishu and Uganda, training and advising Somali security forces battling the al Shabaab group which claimed responsibility for the Nairobi attack.
The EU's top military officer, French General Patrick de Rousiers, said it was routine to raise the alert level. “Of course we do this. Everybody does this, every embassy does this. Everyone is concerned,” he told a news conference.
The EU has had no word of any planned attack on its team and no EU member state had asked to pull its staff out of Somalia, de Rousiers said, but he noted that al Shabaab struck the main UN compound in Mogadishu in June when 22 people were killed.
The EU has 52 personnel deployed at Mogadishu international airport where they advise Somali authorities.
Training of Somali soldiers has taken place mainly in Uganda, where the EU has 68 experts, but it plans to move the entire operation to Mogadishu by early next year.
The team, drawn from 12 EU countries, expects to have trained some 3,600 Somali soldiers by the end of this year.
De Rousiers also said the EU would discuss later this year whether to extend its anti-piracy mission off Somalia beyond the December 2014 date previously agreed.
Piracy off the Horn of Africa has declined sharply since the EU, NATO and other navies sent ships to patrol the seas off Somalia, but there has been a surge in pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea, off the West coast of Africa.
De Rousiers said the EU counter-piracy mission was likely to be extended, possibly with some changes to take account of a switch by some Somali pirates into other crimes such as drug-trafficking. But he said the EU could consider more radical changes, such as moving its naval forces elsewhere.
“Do we go for drug-trafficking in the Antilles (Caribbean), do we go for support for what is already ongoing in the Gulf of Guinea? The success story in the fight against piracy needs us to have a discussion on what next,” he said.