Somali government troops vacate some bases in row over salaries

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Somali government soldiers secure the scene of an attack on a restaurant by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, October 1, 2016. PHOTO | REUTERS
Somali government soldiers secure the scene of an attack on a restaurant by the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, October 1, 2016. PHOTO | REUTERS

Somali soldiers have vacated at least three of their bases in protest over months of missed pay, a military officer and residents said on Wednesday, in what could be a boost for Islamist al Shabaab insurgents.

The vacated bases are in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, one of the troops’ commanders Col Abdi Mohamed Ahmed told Reuters, adding that the move was to protest about non payment of salaries for four months.

“The military soldiers here have not taken salaries for four months. We are now on (the) way to Mogadishu,” Ahmed said.

“It is painful to be in the frontline and fighting al Shabaab while your wife and kids are starving.”

According to Ahmed, troops were also deserting more bases but that some of those garrisons had not been completely abandoned because some Somali troops and others from peacekeeping force Amisom remained.

The group was ejected from Mogadishu in 2011 and has since been driven from most of its other strongholds across the country. But it remains a formidable threat, with its fighters frequently carrying out bombings in Somalia and beyond.

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