December 17, 2006

200 government-deserted soldiers unite with Islamists

200 government-deserted soldiers unite with Islamists

Aweys Osman Yusuf
Mogadishu 17, Dec.06 ( Sh.M.Network)
–Nearly 200 fresh government militias armed with automatic weapons have deserted from their barracks in Baidoa, the current temporary seat for the transitional government of Somalia. They united with rival Islamic Courts fighters positioned in Dinsor, 120 km (75 miles) south of Baidoa, Sunday.

Islamic Courts officials have welcomed the deserters in a settlement dubbed Idaale in Bai province, southern Somalia.

Islamic Courts alleged that the large numbers of soldiers defecting from the government would definitely undermine the authority of the fragile government that importantly hinges on the Ethiopian military might in Baidoa.

Dhiif Osman Abdulle, an Islamist commander in Dinsor, has told Shabelle by the phone that government deserters have united with them. “They (defectors) have decided to support Islam after they realized their belief and honor were being harmed by pro-Ethiopian government in Baidoa,” Abdulle said.

One of the defected government militias, Ali Nasir Dirie Abtidoon, has told Shabelle by phone that he and his fellow militias made their mind up leaving the government. “We have seen that Ethiopian troops occupy Baidoa on day to day and they are definitely going to attack the Somali people, that is why we decided to unite with Islamic Courts to defend the Somali people against the Ethiopian invaders,” he said.

More than six hundred militias defected from the government since it shifted to Baidoa on 26 February this year.

The government was not available for comments over the issue.

These deserted government soldiers were positioned in Dhargo, a government stronghold closer to Islamists’ base in Bai province.

On Thursday about 100 government soldiers accompanied by six trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns have defected to Islamic Courts in the capital Mogadishu.

Islamists took control of the capital early June this year after they forcerfully-evicting former US backed warlords and then expanded their military powers into central and southern regions in the country, besieging the largely weak government based in the small town of Baidoa.

Shabelle News Network

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