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Somalia: Parents protest over missing recruits

Police disperse protesters demanding government find soldiers who reportedly fought against Tigray rebels

Magdalene Mukami   | 20.01.2021
Somalia: Parents protest over missing recruits

MOGADISHU, Somalia

Hundreds of Somali parents, whose sons and daughters have been missing since going to Eritrea for military training, took to the streets of north-central Galkayo city on Wednesday, demanding that the government find their children.

The parents said they have been unable to contact their children and their whereabouts remain unknown since clashes between rebel forces and the Ethiopian military started in the northern Tigray region toward the end of 2020.

The situation was further complicated after Abdisalan Yusuf Guled, the former deputy spy chief of Somalia's National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), claimed that over 370 Somali soldiers died in the Tigray conflict.

Guled said the soldiers sent to Eritrea for training were redeployed to fight alongside the Ethiopian army, a claim shot down by the Somali government.

“A man like him who once knew all the intelligence of this country cannot be wrong. We want answers, we want to know where our children are,” Abdirahman Guled, a distraught parent, told reporters.

The protesters burned tires and blocked major roads, engaging police in running battles.

Police fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse the crowds.

While no injuries were reported, police arrested several protesters.

Hiiraan news quoted Guled as saying on television: “There is no way these Ethiopian commanders tell me lies. Somali soldiers fighting alongside Eritrean troops and commanded by the Eritrean military officials were killed in the war in Tigray.”

Guled was responding to Somali Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe who, in an appearance on Somali state TV on Tuesday, said that no Somali personnel were involved in Ethiopia’s conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

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