26/10/08 (B471) Shabelle : forte augmentation du nombre de jeunes soldats et officiers qui désertent l’armée somalienne pour rejoindre les rangs de l’UIC. // Somali soldiers increasingly desert to the Islamists-report (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Additional soldiers of the Somali government soldiers and officers have started to defect and joined the Union of Islamic Courts fighters, report says.

Sources close to the Somali government say that the soldiers and officers have handed over their weapons to the UIC fighters and joined their ranks.

The deserting soldiers are mostly young members of the army aged between 18 and 22, while the officers were 27 and 31 years old respectively those gave reasons for their desertion that the government told them that they would taken to the outside of the country for scholar but were forcibly taken to military training camps in Ethiopia.

The soldiers were paid money in exchange for the weapons they turned in by the Islamists when they arrived to them.

The defections come as tensions rose between the largely powerless government and the Islamists who seized Mogadishu from warlords in June after months of fierce fighting and have rapidly expanded their territory.

The rise of the Islamists threatens the already limited authority of the internationally backed government, which many had hoped could end 16 years of anarchy in the lawless Horn of Africa nation of about 10-million people.

The Islamists have moved to fill the power vacuum, raising concerns of a Taliban-style takeover of Somalia and challenging the Baidoa-based government, the latest of 14 internationally backed attempts to restore stability