EU agrees to send military training mission to Mozambique

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European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

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BRUSSELS, July 12 (Reuters) - The European Union will set up a military training mission in Mozambique to help the government tackle a growing Islamist insurgency and to protect civilians, the bloc said on Monday.

Mozambique, which has called on the EU for help, has been grappling with a rebellion in its northernmost province of Cabo Delgado since 2017. Violence has grown significantly in the past year.

EU foreign ministers took the formal decision at a meeting in Brussels on Monday although it was not immediately clear which countries will provide the necessary troops.

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"The mandate of the mission will initially last two years," the European Council, representing EU members states, said in a statement

Portugal already sent 60 soldiers to its former colony in May to run a four-month programme training troops to counter the insurgency, share intelligence and use drones to track militants' movements.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said that 200-300 personnel could be deployed to Mozambique by the end of the year.

Portugal is prepared to offer 50% of the manpower and will also provide the commander on the ground in Mozambique, where the violence has driven more than 700,000 people from their homes in Cabo Delgado.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Robin Emmott; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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