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Turkey pledges to help train Somali armed forces

Insurgents from Islamist group Hizbul Islam raise their weapons near the venue of a news conference by Sheikh Yusuf Inda'ade, one of the group founders, in Mogadishu in this file photo from March 23, 2009. REUTERS/Mowlid Abdi

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey will help train and establish a domestic armed forces for the fledgling government of violence-plagued Somalia, President Abdullah Gul said.

NATO member Turkey has sent a ship to the Gulf of Aden to help international efforts off the Somali coast counter pirates who have been increasingly striking at vessels in busy shipping lanes.

Pirates last week attacked a U.S.-flagged container ship and captured its captain. He was subsequently freed in a rescue operation by the U.S. navy and three pirates were shot dead.

“Turkey will give support for the establishment of Somali security forces, their training and other needs,” said Gul at a news conference with visiting Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

The United States has pledged to help pay for Somalia’s domestic security force and bolster the government, established in January under a U.N.-brokered reconciliation process.

It is Somalia’s 15th attempt to set up a central government since 1991.

Gul said Turkey would also give support to education in the country and help build infrastructure.

Ahmed repeated calls for international aid for Somalian stability. A Somali donors conference will be held on April 23 in Brussels, where piracy and other security threats will be discussed.

The Gulf of Aden links Europe to Asia via the Suez Canal, and is a key route for oil tankers and cargo ships.

Editing by Richard Balmforth