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Somalia detains US-trained forces suspected of stealing food

Nation in the Horn of Africa says it’s investigating alleged theft by unit of its elite army, which fights terror group al-Shabaab

Somalia has detained and suspended several members of its American-trained counterterrorism special forces, known as Danab, on charges of having diverted food-ration donations from the US government.

The East African country’s defense ministry said in a statement late Thursday that an investigation into allegations of corrupt activity had begun and that foreign partners had been informed about the suspected theft.

Somali authorities have also consulted with the US government “and will take the responsibility of providing food to the Danab army,” according to the statement.

The Danab Brigade, an elite commando unit in the Somali National Army (SNA), has been a primary recipient of US security assistance as part of a mission in the conflict-torn country to combat the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group al-Shabaab. Since 2017, the approximately 3,000-strong force has reportedly succeeded in regaining control of large swaths of territory from the Islamist militant group, which routinely bombs densely populated areas across the Horn of Africa.

Washington announced in February that it will spend more than $100 million to build up to five new bases for the specialist troops, amid growing threats from al-Shabaab and at a time when the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia is scaling back its presence.

On Thursday, an anonymous US official told Reuters that Washington takes seriously all accusations of corruption against the food-supply unit of the Danab force.

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“We look forward to engaging with the Danab on creating the necessary safeguards and accountability measures to prevent future incidents that could affect future assistance,” the official said, without stating whether the US has suspended any form of aid to the army.

Local broadcaster Shabelle TV, however, cited a senior US Embassy official in a report on Saturday, saying that Washington has suspended food supplies for the elite military unit in response to the theft allegations.

April 27, 2024 at 07:30PM

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