MOGADISHU — The first batch of several thousand Somali troops that were sent to Eritrea for training in 2019 and 2020 have arrived back in Mogadishu. Parents of the soldiers, who feared their sons would be used in Ethiopia’s Tigray war, in which Eritrea was involved, had pressured the Somali government to bring the troops home.
The arrival of this contingent in Mogadishu comes a day after Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said soldiers trained in Eritrea would return to their country during the month of December.
At a news conference Wednesday, Minister of Defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur said the return of the troops is good news for Somalis because these troops will be deployed in the fight against militant group al-Shabab.
He said, “Our first batch of troops who were in Eritrea for training arrived today, and the remaining soldiers will arrive in the coming days to join the fight against the militant group known as Khawaarij.” He said, the federal republic president has traveled twice to Eritrea in his efforts to speed the process of bringing these troops back to their homelands.
The Somali government recently began referring to al-Shabab as Khawaarij, an Arabic term for one who deviates from true Islam.
VOA’s Somali service reports that after their arrival, the troops were escorted to a secure section of the airport, where they camp until they are sent to an undisclosed base.
It was in 2019 that the first of these troops, numbering 5,000 in all, were secretly taken to Eritrea to receive training.
Many Somalis objected to the training, fearing that some of the soldiers would be used in Ethiopia’s Tigray war and parents of the troops pressured the president to bring them home.
VOA Somali was not able to find any evidence that Somali soldiers were ever deployed to Tigray.
Source : VOA News