Al-Shabab seizes towns amid failure to pay Somali armed forces
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somali government's failure to pay and even feed its soldiers threatens to undermine years of hard-won military gains against Islamist Al-Shabab, Garowe Online reports.
In the past two months, the al Qaeda-aligned group has stormed army bases and recaptured several small towns from retreating Somali soldiers in Middle Shabelle and Gedo regions south of the Horn of Africa county.
Sources revealed to Garowe Online that sections of Somali National Army [SNA] soldiers based in Lower Shabelle region were on strike after months of no payments, which led to Al-Shabab retaking Dhanaane near Mogadishu.
On Monday night, heavily armed Al-Shabab seized briefly the stretch town of Bal'ad, about 30 kilometres north of the capital following a massive attack on military bases, according to the local residents.
Early on Tuesday, the extremists retook Busar, located 40 kilometres east of El-Wak town in Gedo region, near Somalia's border with Kenya after KDF withdrew.
The latest takeover happened peacefully.
Somali PM Hassan Ali Khaire refuted claims that the troops vacated frontlines for the lack of salaries and pledged to speed up the payment of the soldiers whose wages were delayed due to ongoing the biometric registration.
Security analysts said the non-payment of salaries and lack of moral is weakening the army in the war against the militants who are currently ramping up their attacks on the government-controlled areas in the south of Somalia.
One of the reasons Somalia’s army has not buckled under such conditions was help from better-equipped AU peacekeepers, who often share personal rations and fuel with Somali soldiers with whom they fight side-by-side.
The United States, Turkey, UAE and Britain have been providing a supplement to Somali troops’ government salaries to help the long-chaotic country rebuild its own national army and end relying on the African Union peacekeepers.