Somali soldier killed in volatile Gedo region near Kenya

GARBAHAREY, Somalia – A member of the Somali National Army [SNA] was killed on Monday in Balad-Hawo, a fragile town along the Kenya-Somalia border, to an extent that could further escalate tensions in the region, which has witnessed skirmishes for several months amid ‘calls for a ceasefire.

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Diriye Barre Ubow, who until his death served in the ANS was reportedly shot dead by gunmen in the town under unclear circumstances and was left for his death, eyewitnesses said. The gunmen fled the scene and could not be identified immediately, another source added.

Sources said the victim died on the spot from gunshot wounds to his chest. It is not known why he was targeted and who was behind the attack due to the multiple conflicts in the region. The Federal Government of Somalia has yet to issue a statement regarding the unprecedented death.

But the death comes just days after townspeople flooded the streets over alleged human rights violations inflicted on them by suspected members of the Kenya Defense Force. [KDF] some who manage the Kenya-Somalia border and the team serving in the Gedo region as part of the African Union Mission [AMISOM].

Protesters claimed three people were kidnapped in the town by suspected KDF troops and that one would later be found dead. But to date, AMISOM and KDF have yet to issue a statement regarding the death, but the Somali National Army still insists Kenyan troops engaged in criminal activity in Gedo.

The Gedo region was the battleground for the Somali National Army [SNA], which were deployed in February against the Jubaland security forces. The crisis was sparked by animosity between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and regional leaders Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe, who have since reconciled.

For example, chaos erupted in the city between SNA and Jubaland forces when Abdirashid Janan, a regional security minister, escaped from Mogadishu prison earlier this year and reportedly took refuge in the town of Mandera in northeastern Kenya. The clashes resulted in the massive destruction of property along the border.

Later, KDF troops were involved in a scuffle with the Somali National Army over the alleged intervention in Gedo. The KDF, which works closely with the Jubaland security forces, warned SNA troops against “violation of territorial integrity” but the crisis has since been resolved following a series of diplomatic meetings.

In addition, frequent Al-Shabaab raids are a thorn in the flesh in the Gedo region. Despite the disagreement between peacekeepers in the region, the team has often carried out attacks on Al-Shabaab militants, killing dozens of them over as many years.

Activists have often targeted members of the security forces, government officials and innocent civilians, but it is not clear whether the activists targeted the victim in the raid. The group is known to go public with its attacks, however, but so far no such statement has been made.

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