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Tension builds up in Kenya's Mandera town near Somalia border

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

MANDERA, Kenya - Residents of the border town of Mandera have decried of building tension in the county, with reports indicating the heavy presence of SNA troops.

For over a week now, security has remained tense along the Kenya-Somalia border, with a number of residents already exiting to secure regions.

The Federal Government of Somalia which is keen to topple Jubaland's president Ahmed Madobe, reportedly deployed over 700 Turkish-trained SNA troops to capture the Gedo region.

On Monday, Jubaland forces, who allegedly enjoy strong backing of KDF, retreated to the border as SNA troops raided Balad-Hawo and Dolow districts.

The troops are said to be in pursuit of Abdirashid Janan, the Jubaland security minister, who escaped from a detention cell in Mogadishu last month after five months behind bars.

Mandera residents raise eyebrows over SNA troops

But the situation could further escalate, with residents from Kenyan side reporting the massive presence of SNA troops, who are allegedly planning to cross over the border.

The troops are reportedly plotting to raid three hotels in Mandera, where Janan and Jubaland troops are reportedly holed up, local media said.

Hussein Abdow, a Bula Tawakal resident, told Garowe Online that many locals have already left after SNA troops started appearing.

“We are not sure of what will happen but once thing I know is that in case the Somalia forces cross into Mandera, many innocent people will lose their lives,” he said.

Amina Giro, a resident of Balad-Hawo, said SNA troops started taking positions along the border on Thursday ready for possible clashes with Kenyan forces.

She said: "The situation has not been the same because the officers have taken positions and are running our town."

According to her, the SNA troops clashed with Jubaland forces at a Khat market in Bula-Hawo on Saturday, leaving one Jubaland soldier dead.

“Two Jubbaland soldiers, who had crossed into Bulahawa from Mandera in search of food, clashed with FGS troops. We are very worried,” said Giro, although the reports could not be verified.

Kenya has been a victim for Al-Shabaab and witnessed deadly attacks since it sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to eliminate militants following a series of kidnappings of foreign aid workers in its soil.