NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 5 – Mandera Governor Ali Roba Thursday warned the security situation in the border town was deteriorating after Jubaland forces were filmed driving non-standard tactical vehicles mounted with machine guns.
Roba who shared armature footage on his social media timeline said the Jubaland soldiers were seen driving tactical vehicles along the Bulla Jamhuri road in Mandera town.
The governor also claimed the rival Somalia National Army (SNA) had its forces in Beled Hawo just across the border in Somalia’s Gedo region.
“Jubaland security forces are moving right inside Mandera town on Bulla Jamhuria Road, near the central chief’s camp, by the Huduma Center,” he said.
The continued presence of Jubaland forces which Somalia has accused Kenya of shielding has caused panic in Mandera, the county government urging its staff to remain at home for their safety.
The National Security Council (NSC) chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday confirmed Somalia had breached Kenya’s territorial integrity during a daylong gunfight with the rival Jubaland forces on Monday.
At least thirty troops were given a haven at Kenyan security installations in Mandera town during the ensuing gunfight.
Governor Roba appealed for an urgent response by the government to protect Kenyan citizens in the border town as tension builds between Jubaland and Somalia.
“This is a major threat to the security of Kenyans in Mandera. Our GoK must move with speed to mitigate this situation or risk more loss of lives,” he urged.
Wednesday’s special session of the security council termed Somalia’s actions, “an unwarranted attack by foreign soldiers with the intention of provoking Kenya,” the council noting
Kenyan citizens in the border town of Mandera were harassed and their property destroyed.
The council comprised of Deputy President William Ruto, Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo, Interior’s Fred Matiangi, Attorney General Kiahara Kariuki, Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe, National Intelligence Service Director General Wachira Kimeru and National Police Service Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai noted security agencies acted in total restraint in keeping with Kenya’s commitment to regional peace and stability.
NSC rubbished claims Kenya was interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs condemning a February 27 statement by the country’s Ambassador in New York, Abukar Dahir Osman.
“The baseless accusations and invalid allegations made by the Federal Government of Somalia that Kenya is interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs; are part of a growing and persistent pattern of ill intent to use Kenya as a scapegoat and a tool to justify challenges in Somalia for political reasons. Kenya will not accept to be used in that manner,” a statement dispatched to newsrooms by State House Press Secretary Kanze Dena read.
NSC warned President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s administration in Mogadishu against perpetuating a smear campaign against Kenya which the council termed as a diversionary tactic to avoid calls for accountability by Somali citizens.
“We encourage the Federal Government of Somalia to stop the smear campaign and commit the energy to deliver leadership and prosperity to its people,” the top security council stated.
“The Federal Government of Somalia in pursuit of short-term political expediency is out to create artificial fissures in the relations between the Republic of Kenya and the Federal Government of Somalia,” NSC added while voicing support for United Nation’s call for the pursuit of a broad political consensus to resolve simmering tensions between Somali’s federal administration and regional states within the country.
Monday’s gunfight which caused panic among residents at the Mandera border town came just a day after the return of 11 Members of Parliament form the northeastern region from a trip in Somalia where they held talks with Farmajo.
Although details of the secret visit remained scanty, seven lawmakers from the region Monday told reporters their concerns on the escalating tensions between Somalia and Jubaland spilling over to Kenya were indeed valid, describing the turn events at the border town as a pointer to a security crisis.
“The war is taking part in our soil and the Government is doing nothing about it,” Mandera Senator Mahamud Maalim asserted.
“What we are been talking about in terms of the danger we are facing, we have been vindicated today.”
The leaders linked the emerging dispute to the existence on unnamed Somalian fugitives in the country, cautioning against action that may destabilize the horn of Africa.
Amnesty International had in September 2019 issued a statement calling for the arrest of Jubaland Security Minister Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur who was being sought after by Mogadishu for what the lobby group termed as criminal responsibility for crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations, including obstructing humanitarian assistance.
“The arrest of Abdirashid Janan is a significant step towards accountability for the serious human rights violations committed with impunity for years by powerful individuals in Somalia,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango, said.