Dozens of Somali soldiers used as cannon fodder in the recent offensive in Ethiopia’s Tigray region were killed in the conflict after completing training in Eritrea a few months ago, but Somali government had earlier denied involvement in the war raging in the northern Ethiopian region.
Just months after reports emerged of Somali mercenaries deployed to Libya’s frontlines to bolster the country’s government troops fighting rebel forces, new reports disclose that dozens of Somalis were killed in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict.
A list of those killed has been submitted to the Somali army by the Eritrean Defense Forces, who had trained and deployed them to parts of the restive Ethiopian region in November, many others are missing, whose families are in grief and frequently take to social media calling for Somali president and his government to provide an explanation on whether their sons are dead or alive and their whereabouts.
But the government ignores the calls of families whose sons have been missing for many months and explanation by authorities on the matter has yet to gather pace.
Dozens of soldiers have been brought home after completing training in Eritrea. Among them is Ahmed, who has told MOL about the story of hundreds of Somali soldiers who had been unexpectedly thrown into battle in Tigray war after completing trainings in Eritrea.
“Close relatives told us that we would be added to hundreds of youths enlisted for Qatari military service and later we were duped into joining the Somali army. We were confined at Halane camp and later flown to Eritrea,” Ahmed said.
“After completing six month training at a training camp in Anseba, 2,500 out of 3,000 Somali soldiers were transported on buses overnight on 1st November. One of our instructors later told us they were taken to Ethiopia’s Tigray region to participate in the war there.”
Ahmed and 2 other soldiers, who recently returned home from training camps in Eritrea, have told MOL that the exact number of Somalis sent to the war in the Tigray region has not been known and have confirmed that several soldiers, who were recently pronounced dead, had graduated from the same military training school as the one they had attended and had been their close friends.
Among those Somali soldiers said to have been killed in Tigray region are Ibrahim Dini, Saed Adan, Abdullahi Mumin, Nunow Madkey and Maslah Ali, and they had all attended the same training camp as the one Ahmed had graduated from.
No Somali survivors from the war in Tigray region have been known but the date 2,500 soldiers were transported from a military camp in Anseba was only a few weeks before Eritrea’s troop incursion into Tigray made headlines around the world and they are believed to be the first batch of Somali troops to have crossed over the border with Eritrean Defense Forces.
Only 500 Somali troops have so far returned from Eritrea and earlier reports suggested that Eritrean military trained more than 10,000 Somalis, who would be used to defend the western-backed Somali government from Al-Shabaab attacks during the country’s elections slated for early 2021.
Ahmed recalls the day more 30 Somali youths were poisoned with food inside their camp in Anseba after refusing to abide by the orders of their military instructors and others lost their lives jumping from mountains in the camp.
Somali government officials approached by Somaliguardian have declined to comment.