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Turkish-trained troops deployed to border region amid claims of KDF abuses

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - More troops selected from the elite Gorgor soldiers have been deployed to the Kenya-Somalia border in the Gedo region, top army officials from the Somali National Army [SNA] said in a statement, in a move that could further fuel conflicts between the Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] and SNA.

In photos published by the army, the elite Gorgor soldiers who are trained by Turkey, are seen disembarking from a small aircraft in Gedo before heading to their respective bases in Somalia. Throughout last week, the SNA troops have been making entry into the Gedo region.

The troops have pitched a tent at Dolow, Balad-Hawo, and El-Wak but it's not clear if they are planning a major assault against the KDF team in Gedo. Top commanders accompanied the troops to the border point which has been experiencing hostility for the past eight months.

The deployment comes amid reports that the KDF troops serving in AMISOM killed a civilian in Balad-Hawo besides "abducting" three under unclear circumstances a fortnight ago. This triggered protests along the Kenya-Somalia common border in El-Wak and Balad-Hawo with citizens accusing the KDF team of committing crimes.

In a letter addressed to the Federal Government of Somalia, residents asked for help in the region arguing that the KDF team was targeting civilians in the region on the pretext of fighting Al-Shabaab. The federal government responded by deploying the troops.

The number is said to be increasing along the border a move which could further heighten tensions. The Somali National Army [SNA] also accuses KDF of conducting airstrikes in Gedo which target civilians, arguing that most of the strikes have left innocent people dead in Gedo.

KDF team mans Sectors II and VI of AMISOM in Jubaland but have often clashed with SNA over the frequent terror targeting innocent civilians. The team is also accused of supporting the Jubaland security forces, a move that has often ignited tensions in the porous border.

The Kenyan team is expected to leave Gedo in 2021 under the Somali Transition Plan [STP] but President Uhuru Kenyatta maintained that the exit will depend on the stability of the region. They'd are close to 3,500 KDF troops in Somalia who serve under AMISOM.