On June 29, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s spokesman officially denied rumors circulated in previous days about the Eritrean government’s alleged demand for US$ 50 million as a condition for the release of 5,000 Somali military personnel still in the country.
Spokesman Abdikarin Ali Kar, during a televised interview, responded to reporters’ questions about the rumors of a demand for money from the Eritrean government by calling them baseless fabrications (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/somalia-denies-rumors-about-eritrea-holding-missing-soldiers-for-50m-ransom/).
The matter stemmed from growing protests from the families of young Somali military personnel sent to Eritrea to support a training program, for many of whom it was apparently impossible to know the fate.
In a subsequent television interview, however, on July 1, again the spokesman for the Somali presidency, Abdikarin Ali Kar, responded to requests from the families of Somali soldiers by confirming how a number of them had died during the training program in Eritrea.
The presidential spokesman assured the families of the soldiers that they would soon receive detailed information on the fate of their relatives, although without giving specifics as to the circumstances surrounding the deaths of some of them (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/somalias-new-administration-confirms-deaths-of-soldiers-in-eritrea/).
A number of rumors had been circulating in Somalia over the past few months about the fate of the servicemen sent to Eritrea for a training program, and, according to some of these, numerous disagreements between the Eritrean and Somali servicemen emerged during the conflict in Tigray, where, according to rumors that are difficult to verify, the Eritrean government tried to deploy the Mogadishu-based soldiers against their will.
The sharp change of pace in communication from the Somali presidency is undoubtedly intended to foster greater clarity on the issue of soldiers sent to Eritrea for a training program, but it risks generating a controversial political case with the previous administration led by President Farmajo and with the Eritrean authorities. Also, according to rumors circulated in the country over the past few months, and yet never officially confirmed, the former Somali president may have worked out a secret agreement with Eritrea for the use in the Tigray conflict of the military present in the country, where many were allegedly killed in combat and others in clashes with the same forces in Asmara.