Kenya calls for immediate cessation of hostilities in Baled-Hawo
NAIROBI, Kenya - There is a need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and return to normalcy in Baled-Hawo, a town near the Kenya-Somalia border, Nairobi has said in a statement just hours after Jubaland security forces and Somali army battled as they both seek to control the region.
For several hours, the two sides engaged in a deadly gunfight that led to the death of at least 11 people, according to statistics released by the Baled-Hawo Hospital officials.
Somalia had claimed that Kenya was supporting the Jubaland troops through KDF, a claim which Nairobi denies.
Foreign Affairs which expressed concern over the renewed fighting in the border town of Beled Hawo in the northern part of the Gedo region, in southern Somalia, said it has sent a diplomatic note to the chairperson of the African Union Commission, calling for restraint.
"In the note, Kenya called for an immediate cessation of the hostilities and a rapid return to normalcy, consistent with the AU's calls and inspirations of 'Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020' efforts," the ministry said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
There is fear that the fighting might spill over to Kenya, which is a major stakeholder in Somalia's quest for peace. There are close to 3,500 KDF troops serving under Sectors II and VI of AMISOM mainly within Jubaland.
The fighting, which has been going on intermittently over several months since the beginning of 2020, involved the SNA against regional forces from Somalia's Jubaland State.
Kenya said its main concern is that the renewed fighting causes large-scale displacement of civilians inside Somalia and drives large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers into Kenya, worsening the already dire humanitarian situation in Somalia and in refugee camps in Kenya.
"Kenya is concerned that if the fighting continues unabated, the situation could further destabilize the region, complicate the security situation and reverse gains made in the fight against terrorism," the statement said.
The Somali government and Jubaland regional state have had a running dispute over the Gedo region, and Mogadishu has accused Kenya of backing the regional state. In several instances, Kenya has often denied the allegations.