Somali National Army troops have for the third day today vacated their bases in Middle Shabelle region over salary disputes with the government amid imminent take-over by the militant group Al-Shabaab of abandoned areas.
Goobjoog News correspondent in Jowhar says the troops have so far vacated Mahaday, Qalimow and Bal’ad bases and are currently assembled in Jowhar town. “There are 15 army trucks assembled here in Jowhar town and the soldiers are grouped in one place,” our correspondent says.
The soldiers could not, however, talk to the media but said they would do so once they get clearance from Mogadishu. Mahaday administration, the correspondent says dismissed claims of Al-Shabaab attacks following troop’s withdrawal.
Al-Shabaab militants briefly entered Bala’d Monday night burning down government vehicles and releasing inmates in a prison within the town. Their entry came few hours after the troops left. The militants were however pushed out following reinforcements from Mogadishu and African Union troops.
The issue of salary delay has now become a push and pull issue between the federal government and the soldiers. Prime Minister Hassan Khaire Monday accused the soldiers of dragging his administration into dispute yet they (soldiers) were to blame for failing to register with the government.
“We have recently heard of troops complaining that they have not been paid their salaries, but those are the troops who have not registered themselves,” the PM said. “I call upon them to register themselves and they will get their salaries.”