Somalia's Shebab warn British troops of welcome 'with bullets'

Mogadishu (AFP) - Somalia's Shebab Islamists have threatened to "welcome with bullets" British soldiers due to be deployed in support of an African Union force.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said last month that up to 70 troops would be sent to Somalia to support soldiers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) without giving a date.

"We have been getting media information that the Christian government of Britain is sending forces to Somalia to strengthen the invading infidel forces already on the ground," said Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage late Tuesday on an Islamist radio station.

"They will not make any difference," he said.

"Our ancestors fought the British colonialists before and we will take the same path. They will be welcomed with bullets...God willing their beheaded bodies strewn around the streets will be shown (on jihadist websites)."

The Shebab, East Africa's Al-Qaeda branch, is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu which is protected by 22,000 AMISOM troops.

The Islamists have lost much ground in recent years but remain a threat in both Somalia and neighbouring Kenya where it has carried out a series of terrorist attacks.

The planned deployment of British troops to Somalia is intended to strengthen AMISOM which has been hit by a string of deadly Shebab assaults on its bases in recent months.

"Our armed forces have a long history of delivering security and stability to some of the most difficult environments in the world, and I am proud to offer British support and expertise to peacekeeping operations in Somalia and South Sudan," Cameron said on September 28.

British soldiers will have "non-combat" roles in both countries, providing "medical, logistical and engineering support" in Somalia.