Somalia denies claims its soldiers killed in Tigray war helping ENDF
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Federal Government of Somalia has denied claims that the country deployed soldiers to Ethiopia during the conflict between the Ethiopian military and the Tigray People's Liberation Front, which led to deaths and displacement of many people.
Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe told the state TV that reports suggesting the presence of Somali National Army [SNA] troops in Ethiopia were "fabricated", adding that Ethiopia has never requested military assistance from Somalia.
The minister, who is a close ally of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, said the reports were engineered by critics to "divert" attention, adding that the government was not aware of any soldiers in the Horn of Africa nation, which has been battling ethnic wars for the past 18 months.
Ethiopia, he added, is a close security and development partner of Somalia, noting the role Addis Ababa has played in ensuring peace and stability in the Horn of Africa nation. He lauded Addis Ababa for continued support for the federal government.
The statement by the minister, however, is not denying that Somali forces are being trained in Eritrea. There are no Somali forces trained in other countries that were sent to a conflict area, he said.
Without giving substantive evidence, Abdisalam Guled, who served as the deputy chief of National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA], had claimed Somalia has borne the brunt of Tigray war, based on his 'investigations and correspondences" with senior Ethiopian security officers.
He said close to 370 soldiers from Somalia who have been killed in the Tigray war, are aged between 20-30 years, and were fighting alongside the Ethiopian and Eritrean Forces, who launched an operation in the Tigray region following an attack by TPLF on the Northern Command.
The former spy chief further alleged that the youthful soldiers were picked from Mogadishu secretly without the knowledge of their families and sent to Eritrea. Somalia, he adds, was returning "favour" to Ethiopia which is instrumental in the peacekeeping mission within the country.
He said that the information was obtained from "exclusive" sources within the Ethiopian military. However, Garowe Online could not independently verify the claims but the Ethiopian army has been working closely with the Somali National Army in the fight against Al-Shabaab besides being accused of interfering with Somalia's internal politics.
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed recently said that the Tigray operation had been completed following the capture of Mekelle, the region's capital. In the process, several TPLF commanders were either arrested or killed by security forces, a move that attracted national condemnation.