Al-Shabab Urges Eritrean-Trained Soldiers to Defect to the Militant Group

Somali president meets soldiers trained in Eritrea.

Somali militant group Al-Shabab called on soldiers trained in Eritrea to leave the army and join them in their fight against government forces.

In an interview with Radio Andalus, Sheikh Issa Yusuf Kabakutukade, the governor of Middle Shebelle, offered blanket amnesty to any Eritrea-trained Somali soldiers who agreed to defect from the army.

“Any soldier who surrenders will have their safety guaranteed and can return to their family in peace,” said Kabakutukade.

The governor said that the defected soldiers will be left alone and that their weapons can be valued in exchange for money.

The first batch of Somali soldiers trained in Eritrea returned to the country in December. Eritrea trained some 5,000 Somali young men to assist with Somalia’s security and stabilization efforts.

Some Somali soldiers who were trained in foreign countries have deserted the army and their weapons to al-Shabab and in the black market after the government failed to pay their salaries.

Somali federal government says the militant group al-Shabab has lost hundreds of fighters and lost ground as the army and clan militias intensify operations against it.