MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Somalia’s security forces dispersed a crowd of parents staging a protest over missing sons sent to Eritrea for a military training and prevented them from speaking to media, witnesses said on Thursday.
Dozens of police officers with armored military vehicles were deployed at KM4 junction in the capital Mogadishu – where a number of parents had gathered to stage a protest to demand government explanation on the whereabouts of their sons.
“Heavily armed soldiers surrounded us” and “threatened us at gunpoint and that they will use force if we hold the protest”, said Amina Ahmed, whose son has been missing since 2019 after being sent to train in Eritrea.
Police officers dispersed the parents who were trying to push for information on whether the sons are still alive or dead, she told Somaliguardian.
Journalists were also blocked from the reaching the scene to interview the protesting families, according to Goobjoog media, in what critics of the current administration say was an effort to silence calls for government explanation after reports emerged of Somali youths sent as cannon fodder in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.
It comes weeks after UN report said Somali recruits were moved from training camps in Eritrea and were deployed in Ethiopia’s Tigray region to fight alongside Ethiopian and Eritrean troops, who have been implicated in a range of human rights abuses, including mass killings of civilians, gang-rapes and using starvation as a weapon of war.
Earlier, Somalia’s prime minister Mohamed Hussein Roble promised that his government will probe reports of missing recruits, despite fear raised by parents that the efforts will not yield positive results.
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