Jubaland troops take control of Baled-Hawo from SNA troops
BELEDHAWO, Somalia – Jubaland security forces have for the first time taken control of the border town of Baled-Hawo located along the Kenya-Somalia border, a move that could spark intense fighting between the team and the Somali National Army. . [SNA], who have literally been in charge for the past year or so.
In February 2020, troops from SNA forces captured the town from Jubaland security forces, a move that sparked sharp divisions between Kismayo and Mogadishu, with Kenya also entangled in disagreements, leading to a diplomatic row between the two countries.
In a statement, Somalia’s federal government said a “Kenyan-armed rebel group” crossed the border this evening and attacked the town of Beled Hawo. According to social media, the forces behind the attack are led by Jubaland Security Minister Abdirashid Janan.
Although the federal government condemned the attack, reports indicate that SNA troops have yet to respond to the raid, but may carry out retaliatory attacks in the coming hours. Already those living along the border have started running towards the Kenyan side which is heavily guarded by KDF troops at Border Point One.
Janan has been mobilizing the troops for almost a year now after facing the SNA, but the intervention of the international community has gone a long way in reducing the conflict. The Somali government has often accused Kenya, through the KDF, of helping arm the Jubaland security forces, a claim Nairobi denies.
Janan, a close ally of the president of Jubaland, Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe, was arrested in 2019 by SNA troops in Mogadishu, but then escaped prison before taking refuge in Kenya. He withdrew to Mandera where he began an operation to take control of Baled-Hawo, a strategic town in the Gedo region.
The federal government and Jubaland had an ongoing dispute over the Gedo region. The dispute, the United States had warned, could affect the war against Al-Shabaab given that the KDF team was allegedly involved, and by the fact that it is a major security actor in Somalia.
The attack also comes at a time of controversy over elections in Somalia. The dispute is based on the federal government’s takeover of the Gedo region from the Jubaland administration, which prompted plans to hold elections in the troubled country.
Last month, the Somali government cut diplomatic relations with Kenya, accusing it of constant interference in Somalia’s internal affairs. Kenya has denied the accusation. IGAD recently sent a fact-finding mission to the border, but the findings have not been made public.