MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia’s president and his prime minister are under heavy pressure after the United States confirmed that Somali troops had been deployed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region where allied Ethiopian and Eritrean forces have been battling local rebels since November of last year.
The United States said this week a number of Somali soldiers were present in the war-hit northern Ethiopian region, corroborating a UN report which revealed whereabouts of missing Somali recruits last month.
“We are aware that there were some Somali troops that were in Ethiopia,” acting assistance secretary for US Bureau of African Affairs, Robert F. Godec said, adding that it was not known if the soldiers were engaged in “actual kind of offensive operations”.
The leader of Wadajir opposition party Abdirahman Abdishakur said the president and the outgoing government “remain silent on the whereabouts of Somali youths taken to Eritrea”.
“It is not known where the PM-appointed team [to probe the case] has gone. The US government has confirmed that Somali troops trained in Eritrea are present in Ethiopia. It is not possible to deny or turn a blind eye to the misery and grievances of parents [whose sons are missing],” Wadajir party leader said on Saturday.
He urged the president and his government to address calls for explanation by parents whose sons are missing since going to Eritrea and bring the youths who are still alive back home and “tell the truth about those killed” in the conflict.
“New evidences emerge from Somalis thought to be receiving military training in Eritrea show they were fighting in Tigray region,” deputy leader of Somalia’s Upper House of Parliament Abshir Bukhari said.
The motive behind sending Somali troops to take part in the war raging in Ethiopia’s north is so far unknown while the federal government in Somalia is dependent on thousands of African Union forces for the fight against Al-Shabaab and protection of security of government compounds in the capital Mogadishu.
Asked about the reason behind the deployment of the soldiers in Ethiopia, Robert F. Godec said they had been trained by Eritrea as a result of agreements between the countries and “that appears to be the reason”.
The remarks have corroborated an exclusive report by Somaliguardian in January which for the first time revealed hundreds of Somali troops had been used as cannon fodder in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict where dozens of them had been killed.
A UN report also confirmed Somali recruits moved from Eritrean military training camps “were present around Aksum”, a town in the war-wrecked region which was under the control of Eritrean forces at the time.
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