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Somali soldier killed in volatile Gedo region, near Kenyan border

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

GARBAHAREY, Somalia - A member of the Somali National Army [SNA] was on Monday killed in Balad-Hawo, a fragile town along the Kenya-Somalia border, in a move which could further heighten tensions in the region, which has witnessed skirmishes for a couple of months amid calls for a ceasefire.

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

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

But the death just comes few days after residents of the town flooded streets over alleged human rights abuses inflicted on them by suspected members of the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] some who man the Kenya-Somalia border and the team which serves in the Gedo region under the Africa Union Mission [AMISOM].

Protestors claimed that three people had been abducted within the town by suspected KDF troops and one would later be found dead. But to date, the AMISOM and KDF are yet to issue a statement with regard to the death, but the Somali National Army still insists that the Kenyan troops were engaged in criminal activities within Gedo.

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

For instance, chaos broke out in the town between SNA and Jubaland forces when Abdirashid Janan, a regional security Minister, escaped from prison in Mogadishu early this year and reportedly took refuge in Mandera town in northeastern Kenya. The clashes led to massive destruction of property along the border.

Later, the KDF troops were embroiled in a tussle with Somali National Army over the alleged intervention in Gedo. KDF, who work closely with Jubaland security forces, warned the SNA troops against " violation of territorial integrity" but the crisis has since been solved following a series of diplomatic meetings.

Also, a thorn in the flesh within the Gedo region is the frequent Al-Shabaab raids. Despite disharmony among the peacekeeping troops in the region, the team has often waged attacks against the Al-Shabaab militants, killing dozens of them in as many years.

The militants have often targeted members of the security forces, government officials, and innocent civilians but it's not clear if the militants targeted the victim in the raid. The group is, however, known to make their attacks public but until now, no such statement has been made.