Fatalities reported along Kenya-Somalia border as conflict escalates


BULA HAWO, Somalia – In another attack by the Al-Shabaab militants, three soldiers from the Somali National Army [SNA] were killed on Saturday near the border between Kenya and Somalia in Beled-Hawo. The Al-Shabaab militants have been fighting against the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia.
The soldiers were victims of a roadside explosion set up by Al-Shabaab while they were carrying out increased surveillance along the porous border. Beled-Hawo is situated in the Gedo region of Somalia, which serves as a buffer zone for the Kenya Defense Forces.
Eyewitnesses reported that the soldiers were traveling in a vehicle that detonated an IED, resulting in severe injuries. Approximately 10 other individuals sustained critical injuries and were hurriedly taken to Mandera County Hospital across the border for treatment.
This incident occurs as the Somali National Army [SNA], the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], and the US Africa Command prepare for the second phase of their campaign against Al-Shabaab, focusing primarily on the Jubaland and Southwest states.
Kenya had suspended plans to reopen its border with Somalia in July due to the increase in Al-Shabaab activities in the East African country, specifically affecting the Mandera-Bula Hawo border. Border Point One, which connects Kenya and Somalia, has remained closed for almost ten years.
The Kenya Defense Forces primarily operate in Jubaland state, which has long been used as a buffer zone in the fight against Al-Shabaab. KDF closely collaborates with the Jubaland Regional Forces, who play a crucial role in weakening the militants in western Somalia.
KDF will participate in the second phase of operations against Al-Shabaab and, to protect the local population along the border, has established 14 Forward Operating Bases. In the future, most of the troops serving under ATMIS will retreat to these bases to safeguard the border.