Eritrea-trained soldier dies in Somalia after "escaping" from Asmara

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GAROWE, Puntland - A youthful soldier believed to have trained in Eritrea has been killed in Afgoye town, 30Km northwest of Mogadishu, weeks after escaping from Eritrea, where he had been "smuggled" to for clandestine training by authorities in Somalia.

Abdulmalik Abdullahi Haji in his 20s has succumbed to injuries sustained following a knife attack, sources said, following a minor argument with one of his friends in the town. He has since been laid to rest.

Abdulmalik was among thousands of Somali boys lured to fake Doha jobs but dispatched to Eritrea, where he has reportedly been training with close to 5,000 others. The government of Somalia through spy agency NISA airlifted them to Asmara in three batches according to information obtained by Garowe Online.

Reports indicate that the slain young soldier, who did not finish his training, managed the escape with five others from the training camp in mid-June, about two years since their controversial enlisting in the camp, with the hope of joining the Somali National Army [SNA].

Upon arrival, Abdimalik and his colleagues narrated to the media about the alleged harsh training conditions in Eritrea, as they were subject to constant torture. "Some of us were executed," Abdulmalik said during the interview in Garowe.

However, a number of state operatives close to outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo termed Abdimalik's version of the story as "null and void" with some insisting that his assertions were "typical fake news" out to spoil the reputation of the Somali government.

Even after protests in Mogadishu over missing youths, it took the government a couple of days before admitting that indeed, there were soldiers being trained in Eritrea. Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe confirmed, adding that "there is nothing more serious than that".

The youths are said to have crossed over to Tigray in Ethiopia, where they reportedly assisted Ethiopia National Defense Forces [ENDF], Eritrea troops, and the Amhara regional forces in "executing" innocent civilians in the pretext of pursuing Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] otherwise known as Tigray Defense Forces [TDF].

A report compiled by the UN Special Rapporteur to Eritrea confirmed the reports, noting that the Somali troops fought in Axum, a holy city in northern Ethiopia. However, Mogadishu has persistently dismissed the claims as "misinformation".

Multiple reports indicate that the remaining Somali soldiers training in Eritrea could be coming home in a couple of months after they finish biometric screening, before being officially enlisted with the Somali National Army.

The opposition believes that outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is keen to use the in poll rigging, a claim which Villa Somalia has denied. Their parents have been putting that government under pressure to give full details about the whereabouts of the young soldiers.

GAROWE ONLINE

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