Western troops leave Somalia

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The Independent Online
THE last of the German peace-keeping contingent in Somalia left yesterday, six days before the date set by the United States for the withdrawal of its forces. Their going will leave only 'Third World' countries with troops in Somalia.

The last 178 German soldiers out of a contingent of 1,700 were taken by helicopter to German warships waiting off Mogadishu. It was the first time that German troops operated outside the Nato zone since the formation of the modern German army in 1955.

The departure of the 'First World' troops has left much bitterness among the remaining UN forces in Somalia. Assef Ahmed Ali, the Pakistan Foreign Minister, said on a visit to Somalia this week that the United Nations could hardly be proud that only Asians and Africans were staying on after 25 March, when the last American troops are due to leave.

Pakistani troops now form the bulk of the Unosom II force, with a contingent of 5,416 soldiers stationed for the most part in southern Mogadishu. Mr Assef lamented that the Pakistani soldiers who have borne the brunt of casualties in the peace-keeping operation, are supplied with outdated tanks and helicopters.

He said he wondered if that meant that the life of a Pakistani in the UN force was worth less than that of a Westerner. But he said Pakistan would not shy away from its international duties, a remark clearly aimed at the departing Americans.