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SNA troops clash with Jubaland forces in Gedo

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

KISMAYO, Somalia - For the third time in as many months, troops from the Somali National Army [SNA] clashed with Jubaland regional forces at the fragile Gedo region, but the gunfight only lasted on Tuesday for few minutes after which normalcy was restored according to residents.

Reports indicate that the SNA troops opened fire at the Jubaland forces in Balad-Hawo, a town bordering Kenya in northwestern Somalia, which is also an important cross-border point in northeastern Kenya to Somalia, a country which has been struggling with stability for three decades.

It's not clear why the two former allies cum rivals clashed but sources said both parties were heavily armed at the time of crisis. The number of casualties still remains scanty but the fighting lasted for a few minutes as both parties fired indiscriminately within the small town.

The fighting comes at the time Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe is in Mogadishu where he's scheduled to hold a meeting with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. The two leaders are set to discuss the pre-election crisis which threatens to sabotage Somalia's much-anticipated elections later on this year.

However, they have been at loggerheads, something which escalated to a fierce gunfight in the past. Their differences almost blew out of proportion when Farmajo dispatched the elite SNA troops to Gedo, a move which Madobe termed as "naked aggression" against Jubaland.

Madobe, who is credited for his role in the fight against Al-Shabaab and subsequent capture of Kismayo, accused the federal government of plotting to establish a parallel administration in the Gedo region to rival his government.

But Farmajo denied the claims, arguing that SNA troops were at liberty to guard the country's international borders. The February fierce fighting between SNA and Jubaland forces in Balad-Hawo almost spilled over to Kenya, a move that resulted in a diplomatic spat between the two nations.

However, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Farmajo discussed the matter on a phone call before a high-level delegation from Kenya visited Mogadishu. The Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] troops stationed in Mandera had also threatened to revenge over the skirmishes but the matter was diplomatically solved.

In a media dispatch, the SNA troops accused KDF of helping Jubaland forces, adding that the region's security minister Abdirashid Janaan had been given refuge by KDF in Mandera after escaping from a Mogadishu prison. Janaan had been arrested by the FGS much to the discomfort of Jubaland.

The US is said to have intervened by calling for a ceasefire between Nairobi and Mogadishu. Since April, the border point has seen fewer military activities until Tuesday, and it's still not yet clear why the two sides exchanged fire despite the fact that they had called for a truce.