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THE SOMALI PILOT WHO DEFECTED

THAT THE PILOT, COLONEL HASSAN WAS INTERVIEWED BY OMAR ALASOW and NOT The Guardian Reporter. the interview is also published in an article that Omar submitted to the International Congress of Somali Studies, Turku, Finland, August 6-9, 1998 and edited by Muddle Suzanne Lilius -kartt.ISBN 952-12-0823-6 .

According to Amnesty International several thousand civilians were killed when SNM-held areas were bombed by Somali Air Force pilots. One Somali Air Force pilot defected to Djibouti in July, saying that he was refusing to obey orders to bomb civilian targets in the North. Thousands more civilians from Hargeisa were deliberately killed by artillery bombardment as they fled towards the Ethiopian border to escape from the fighting and killings in the city.

Amnesty International, Somalia Report 1, December 1988.

*******

According to The Guardian newspaper, Somali Air Force pilot has defected to neighbouring Djibouti after refusing to bomb civilian targets in the rebel held Northern city of Hargeisa. Lieutenant-Colonel Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, the defected pilot provides further evidence, in telephone with a Guardian reporter in his residence in Luxemburg that:

"At the briefing (before the attack) we were instructed that the military target is the enemy. Direct your attacks against wherever there is a high concentration of Isaaqs. They are all SNM members and supporters (meaning civilian population from the Isaaq clan). I asked the Brigadier-General if such bombardment was legitimate and constitute a military advantage for the Air Force. "It is the responsibility of the Isaaqs (civilian population) to kick out the SNM from their homes. They accommodate them. Let them face the consequence" he replied, adding that "in times of war we are obliged to obey orders. No question."

The original mission of the Somali National Army was to protect the nation from external aggression. I was trained to fight against an enemy force not my own people; my decision was firm to risk dying rather than bombarding civilians and their property."

The Guardian, Friday July 15, 1988.

******

According to Africa Confidential, the planes that bombarded Hargeisa and other cities come from two air force units. Somali pilots flew the Mig-17 and ex-Rhodesian air force pilots who now hold South African or British passports piloted the Hawker Hunters. According to Hargeisa residents these planes have been far more dangerous and effective than the silver-coloured Somali piloted Migs. Africa Confidential, 29 July, 1988. Vol.29 No.15.


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