Somalia infighting leaves at least 11 dead

Somali federal forces have clashed with Jubaland security forces

REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR  -   African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers in an armoured vehicle in Mogadishu

Somalia is still trying to move towards stability, but the elements against it are too numerous. Apart from the fight against terrorism led by Al-Shabaab and the Indian Ocean piracy that usually starts from its shores, there is also the fragile internal situation. Somalia has a federal character, due to tensions between several of its constituent states, such as Somaliland, Puntland and Jubaland.

The clashes are reported to have taken place in the town of Balad Hauo, on the border with Kenya. The attack reportedly began on Sunday when gunmen linked to Jubaland's security minister, Abdirashid Janan, attacked several military compounds of the Somali federal army, which has been in control of the town for the past year. 

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AFP/ABDIRAZAK HUSSEIN FARAH - Somali soldiers next to the scene of a car bomb attack in Mogadishu on December 28, 2019

Following the attacks, both the Jubaland and Somali administrations claim to be in control of the town. According to the Somali Ministry of Information, the Somali armed forces repelled the attacks, arresting more than a hundred attackers and killing several of them, including one of the town's police chiefs, Mohamed Abdinur. At least 11 people were killed in the attack, including four children.

The dispute between the Jubaland authorities and the Somali federal government is dragging on. In fact, the aforementioned security minister was arrested in 2019 by Somali troops, although he managed to escape and take refuge in Kenya.

Mogadishu accuses the neighbouring country of being in charge of arming these groups and supporting attacks such as the one that has taken place in recent days. Because of this, Somalia broke off relations with Kenya last December, provoking a new political and diplomatic crisis in the region that has resulted, for the moment, in the expulsion of the Kenyan ambassador to Somalia. Mogadishu accuses Nairobi of interfering in Jubaland's electoral process.

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Kenya denies any link to the attack. Its security minister said that no troops had crossed the border into Somalia, and that it was an internal Kenyan affair. The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, has expressed its concern about the increase in tension and violence, which greatly favours the spread of terrorism.

The Horn of Africa is in a situation of growing stability, despite having gone through a period that had been encouraging, as the situation in Somalia has been compounded by the denunciations of Kenya, the tension and clashes between Sudan and Ethiopia, and the internal instability in which Ethiopia finds itself. 

Somalia faces an important electoral process on 8 February, after being postponed in December due to a series of differences. The Somali government was unable to agree with the opposition on the composition of the Electoral Board, which should be in charge of ensuring the proper conduct of the elections. Terrorism and internal clashes such as the one in Balad Hauo only make it more difficult for the country to move forward with reforms.