Tigray Conflict Divides Ethiopia‘s Troops in Somalia along Ethnic Lines

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Tigray conflict has divided Ethiopian troops in Somalia along ethnic lines after Abiy Ahmed’s government ordered the military to disarm Tigrayan soldiers serving under African Union mission in the war-torn country.

Following a large-scale military offensive launched by Ethiopian federal troops on the country’s Tigray region last month, peacekeepers from the country in Somalia have been severely impacted by the conflict at home.

On Sunday, infighting broke out at an Ethiopian military base in Halgan, a town in the central Somalia region of Hiran. Fierce exchange of gunfire was heard inside the camp for hours.

Somali officials – who have working relationship with Ethiopian defense forces – told Somaliguardian on Sunday that a soldier carried out a shooting rampage against his colleagues.

Ethiopian troops at the base were ordered to disarm colleagues of Tigrayan ethnicity but a number of soldiers refused to lay down their arms as a result of which fighting erupted, Somali officials in the town of Halgan said.

At least 4 soldiers have been killed in the clashes, among them a Tigrayan who launched the attack before exchanging gunfire with his colleagues.

Both Ethiopian and Somali governments have not immediately commented on the fighting, which has come weeks after Ethiopia announced disarming peacekeepers in Somalia from its Tigray region over a security issue.

A number of Tigrayan soldiers at a base in the town of Halgan have been disarmed, according to local Somali officials. The base is home to thousands of non-AMISOM Ethiopian troops and often comes under attacks from militants, who had besieged the town.

Since military operation against Tigray authorities swung into action early last month, nearly 500 Tigrayan peacekeepers at bases in south and central Somalia have been disarmed while a number of others have returned to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has more than 17,000 troops in Somalia fighting Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab and helping Somali government to exert authority over the country following three decades of conflict. The Ethiopian military has pulled out nearly 5,000 troops since fighting began in Tigray to reinforce federal forces battling TPLF rebels.

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