Jubaland troops take over Baled-Hawo from SNA troops
BELEDHAWO, Somalia - The Jubaland security forces have for the first time taken over the border town of Baled-Hawo located along the Kenya-Somalia border, a move which could trigger intensive fighting between the team and the Somali National Army [SNA], who have been literally in charge for the last one year.
In February 2020, the troops from the SNA forces captured the town from Jubaland security forces, a move which elicited sharp divisions between Kismayo and Mogadishu, with Kenya also being entangled in the disagreements, leading to a diplomatic spat between the two countries.
In a statement, the federal government of Somalia said a “rebel group armed by Kenya” crossed the border tonight and attacked Beled Hawo town. Social media reports say 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 are yet to respond to the raid, but could wage retaliatory attacks in the coming hours. Already, those living along the border have started running to 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 clashing with SNA, but the intervention by the international community has greatly helped to reduce the conflict. Somalia's government has often accused Kenya, through KDF, of helping to arm the Jubaland security forces, a claim which Nairobi denies.
Janan, a close ally of Jubaland President Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe, was arrested in 2019 by SNA troops in Mogadishu but would later escape from prison before taking refuge in Kenya. He retreated to Mandera where he commenced an operation to take over Baled-Hawo, a strategic town in the Gedo region.
The federal government and Jubaland had a running dispute over the Gedo region. The dispute, the US had warned, could affect the war against Al-Shabaab given that the KDF team was allegedly involved, and by the fact that it's a major stakeholder in Somalia's security.
The attack also comes at a time of controversy over Somalia's elections. The dispute is based on the federal government's takeover of the Gedo region from the Jubaland administration, something that has grounded plans to hold elections in the troubled country.
Last month, the Somali government cut diplomatic ties with Kenya accusing it of constant interference in Somalia's internal affairs. Kenya denied the accusation. IGAD recently sent a fact-finding mission to the border but findings have not been made public.