UNFLAPPABLE Penny Mordaunt was armed with a pistol to protect herself during a trip to a war-torn African country days before a deadly terror attacked rocked the nation’s capital, it has been revealed.
The Portsmouth North MP was equipped with a loaded Glock handgun during a foreign visit Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
The unusual move came during her tour of Africa in early 2016 when she was Britain’s first female armed forces minister.
She had been on a diplomatic mission to strengthen defence links with the nation’s then-prime minister, Omar Sharmarke and top defence officials as they continued to fight against terror group, al-Shabaab.
Ministers are normally accompanied by armed protection officers on foreign trips into dangerous areas.
However, according to reports in The Times, the international development secretary needed to be armed while in the nation as there were no bodyguards available to protect her.
‘She went to Mogadishu when it was being shelled and they weren’t able to give her any personal protection at the time,’ a source told the newspaper. ‘In order to go she had to qualify on the Glock. She had a refresher course.’
The story came to light after Ms Mordaunt – a Royal Navy reservist – told MPs in the Commons tea room last week.
Some felt she was telling the story in a bid to firm up her leadership credentials, but a fellow minister told The Times: ‘It’s all absolutely true. Don’t mess with Penny.’
Her trip to Somalia came amid a series of deadly attacks in Mogadishu which saw several people killed in a number of suicide bombings – including a former Somali defence minister.
The visit is understood to have happened just weeks before terror group al-Shabaab raided the Somali Youth League hotel in the city, in a deadly assault that killed at least nine people.
Attackers set off a car bomb outside the heavily fortified hotel before moving in.
Police later shot and killed four attackers from al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, which is waging an armed insurgency in Somalia.
While just the day before the bloody raid, a mortar attack on the presidential palace in Mogadishu was launched which killed three people in the compound.
Reacting to the news, Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said she wasn’t surprised by Ms Mordaunt’s daring.
She said: ‘It sounds entirely like Penny, she’s tough and feisty and nothing fazes her.’
As previously reported, Ms Mordaunt’s trip saw her donating £3m to the UN Somali National Army Trust Fund, which funded the purchase of key resources, including rations, fuel and medical supplies.
Speaking at the time, she said: ‘I am delighted to announce the UK’s further donation of over £3m to the Trust Fund, in its fight to defeat Al Shabaab.
‘This demonstrates our commitment to the SNA, and to building the foundations of lasting security in Somalia more widely.’