Ethiopia and Somalia deny Somali soldiers fighting in Tigray region

Friday January 22 2021

People walk next to an abandoned tank belonging to Tigrayan forces south of the town of Mehoni, Ethiopia, on December 11, 2020. Ethiopia and Somalia have denied that Somali troops were sent to fight in the Tigray war. PHOTO | EDUARDO SOTERAS | AFP


Ethiopia has joined Somalia in refuting claims that Mogadishu sent troops to fight in the Tigray war under a secret plan.

Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Dina Mufti said the country did not request for Somalia’s support in the crackdown against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Mufti was reacting to a January 18 letter by the Chairman of Somalia’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Abdulkadir Osoble Ali, requesting Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to investigate complaints by families that their sons serving in the Somali National Army had gone missing while fighting in Ethiopia. 

“We have seen reports about Eritrean troops that have crossed into Ethiopia,” Mufti said. “We are also witnessing similar reports about Somali soldiers participating in the same campaign. Both of these claims are false and unfounded.” 

Reports emerged this week that about 370 Somali soldiers who had been training in Eritrea were massacred in Ethiopia where they had been drafted to fight alongside Eritrean troops.

On Tuesday, Somalia’s Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe appeared on the state-run Somali National Television (SNTV), telling the nation that no Somali forces were involved in the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia. 


Dubbe insisted that reports indicating that 370 Somali soldiers were killed while fighting alongside Ethiopian forces in Tigray were false. 

“No Somali soldiers have been recruited by Ethiopia or deployed to participate in the fighting in the Tigray region,” the minister said. “It is just a rumour and it’s nonsense.”

For almost a week, independent media in Somalia have been reporting on mothers claiming to have lost touch with their sons reportedly sent to Eritrea for military training by the Federal Government of Somalia. Similar complaints have gone viral on social media. 

Following days of street protests in parts of Galmudug State of Somalia, the state’s Security Minister, Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, met with parents of the allegedly missing soldiers on Wednesday in Galkayo town, 750 km north of Mogadishu. 

Fiqi assured them that his Galmudug state government would take the matter up with the relevant federal offices.

So far, the Federal Government has not explained the whereabouts of those men or confirmed whether they were serving in the SNA.