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Somalia: AMISOM commander visits troubled Gedo amid tension

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] force commander Lt. Gen Tigabu Yilma completed his two-visit to troubled Gedo region in Jubaland on Monday, the force said, amid growing tensions.

He visited Bardhere Forward Operating Base in the Gedo region, where he interacted with the AMISOM military officers.

For the past one week, the Gedo region has witnessed a flurry of military activities, following the deployment of over 700 SNA troops "to beef up security in the area".

Jubaland forces have threatened to wage retaliatory attacks against SNA troops, following the takeover of Beled-Hawo and Doloow districts, which fall under Jubaland jurisdiction, officials said.

But Gen. Yilma, who has been in charge of AU force, also visited Baidoa in Southwest to establish the security situation and progress on joint operations between AMISOM and SNA.

Also, the army boss received a briefing from field commanders on progress on implementation of the concept of operations and Somalia transition plan, AMISOM said.

During his stay in Gedo and Baidoa, Gen. Tigabu held a closed-door meeting with commanders from Ethiopian National Defense Forces [ENDF] who monitor Sector Three in Jubaland.

At Gedo, the army general, who took over barely two years ago, visited Bardhere Forward Operating Base, amid escalating tensions in the region, AMISOM added.

Lt. Col Charles Imbiakha, the force' spokesperson, said the army boss took stick on the achievements by the troops in a bid to restore stability in Somalia.

He said, “During the tour, the Force Commander was taking stock of the achievements so far, in operationalizing the Concept of Operations 2018-2021.”

There are about 22,000 AMISOM troops in Somalia who have been defending civilians from Al-Shabaab onslaught in the last ten years. They also keep a vigil on the fragile UN-backed Somalia government.

Gen. Tigabu lauded Somali National Army and the AMISOM troops for consolidated efforts to keep Al-Shabaab at bay in the region, Imbiakha added.

"The commander was happy with the progress made by SNA and AMISOM on opening main supply routes and securing the airport which is critical for humanitarian aid," Imbiakha said.

Also, he hailed the cordial relationship between the two forces in Gedo and Baidoa, which have borne the brunt of Al-Shabaab raids.

But Tigabu could be thrown into limbo in the coming days following the invasion of SNA in Gedo, a move which has irked Kismayo authorities, analysts warn.

Ahmed Madobe, the Jubaland President, had in the past warned Ethiopian troops against "working with FGS to undermine our sovereignty".

While FGS enjoys support from Ethiopian troops, the Jubaland administration works closely with Kenya Defense Forces [KDF], another critical player in Somalia's security.

KDF man's Sector 2 and Six in Jubaland. The conflicting interests of Ethiopia and Kenya within Gedo could further derail efforts to restore stability in Somalia, Rashid Abdi, a security analyst, said.