10 June 2009

Somalia: 30 Soldiers Defect From Government

Mogadishu — Ahmed "Lashin" Sheikh Muhiyadin, commander of the defecting soldiers, told reporters in the capital Mogadishu Wednesday that the soldiers were part of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) militia who joined the government when Sheikh Sharif Ahmed became Somali President in January.

He showed reporters the soldiers and two armed trucks at the Yaaqshiid police station in northern Mogadishu.

A military source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that they used to be stationed near El Ma'an harbor, where their mission was to "prevent opposition reinforcements" during combat.

Somali government officials have not spoken about the defecting soldiers, but Hizbul Islam is one of two major rebel factions spearheading a fierce guerrilla war against President Sheikh Sharif's interim government.

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