The African Union (AU) has expressed concern over the rising tensions at the common border between Kenya and Somalia, where there was sporadic violence in Bula-Hawo. It called for dialogue to deescalate tension.
Fighting broke out between Somalia National Forces and regional Jubbaland fighters, which Somalia says were trained in Kenya.
On the Somali side where the battle occurred on Monday morning, at least nine people, including civilians, were killed.
The AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat has called on the two sides to stop the fighting and use multilateral channels to air their grievances.
“I’m following the tensions on the Kenya-Somalia border with concern, and urge the two neighbours to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue in conformity with the Igad-led process.
“Peace on the Kenya-Somalia border is vital to regional stability.”
Faki’s comments came as Mogadishu insisted it had confirmed weapons from Kenya had been used in the fight, although no evidence was immediately provided for the claims which Kenya rejected.
Kenya wrote to the African Union, on Monday, expressing security concerns, after federal and regional forces from Somalia renewed fighting at Bula-Hawo in Gedo near Mandera County.
Kenya said the fighting most likely will create a security crisis especially as the two countries no longer have diplomatic relations.
“Kenya’s primary concern is that the renewed fighting engenders large scale displacement of civilians inside Somalia and increasingly generate large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers to Kenya, therefore aggravating the already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia and in the refugee camps in Kenya,” said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Kenya is concerned that if the fighting continues unabated, the situation could further destabilise the region, complicate the security situation and reverse the gains made in the fight against terrorism.”
On the Kenyan side in Mandera, the fighting has disrupted normal business and other activities as schools and shops have been shut for fear of violence. Ali Roba, the governor of Mandera, said some Kenyans were injured in the incident.
The battle between both forces, the SNA and Jubbaland fighters, began at about 1am Monday with the fight going on all through the day.
After taking out the Jubbaland forces loyal to the Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur alias Abdirashid Janan, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) soldiers have been camping at Bula-Hawo town since March last year.
Abdirashid Janan, a Jubbaland minister for security, is wanted by Mogadishu.
Janan and his army crossed into Kenya and hid in Mandera town, after they were overpowered in March last year.
The tensions between Somalia and Kenya saw Mogadishu cut diplomatic ties with Nairobi in December last year. But Kenya has since rejected claims that it interfered with Somalia’s internal affairs.