Heavy fighting has broken out between Somali forces and those from the state of Jubbaland in a Somali town near the Kenyan border
In a statement early on Monday, Somalia’s information ministry accused Kenya-funded rebels of crossing into the town of Bulo Hawo and attacking Somali forces. But while speaking to reporters, the Vice President of Jubbaland, Mohamud Sayid Adan, said that Jubbaland forces stationed outside the town were attacked by what he called forces recently deployed to the region by the government in the capital, Mogadishu.
While both sides have claimed victory, people in the town have begun to flee, as they say fighting still continues. No immediate details have however been given concerning casualties, but the information ministry asserted that Somali forces were in control of the town.
Somalia’s accusation of Kenyan support to the Jubbaland leader follows the country’s severed diplomatic ties with Kenya in December “to safeguard the unity, sovereignty, and stability of the country.” Critics have accused Somalia’s President of stirring up such issues to draw support as he seeks a second term in office.
Somalia is preparing for its national election in the coming weeks, amidst recent cases of violence. Jubbaland and Puntland both in the north of the country, have refused to take part in the election.
In September 2020, while talks were ongoing between states and the federal government, President Abdullahi Mohamed Abdullahi agreed to withdraw Somali forces from the Gedo region of Jubbaland, where Bulo Hawo is located. But till date, the Somali forces remain after taking over the town mid-last year.
Also, the president has replaced district commissioners in Gedo who had been appointed by Jubbaland leader Ahmed Madobe, who is seen to have Kenyan support.
Jubbaland also houses the lucrative port city of Kismayo, where Kenyan forces are deployed as part of a multinational African Union force, as well as the Middle Jubba region which is still controlled by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group.
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