NAIROBI – Kenyan authorities say one person is dead and 11 others injured after clashes in Somalia this week spilled across the border into Kenya. Now local leaders from Kenyan border areas are demanding action.
Leaders from the region say tensions on the Kenya-Somalia border have been simmering for a while and that Kenya’s national government has failed to pay attention. They voiced their concerns Friday during a press conference in Nairobi. Among them, Ali Roba, governor of the Kenyan border town of Mandera. He spoke of the trouble in Somalia’s semi-autonomous state of Jubaland, where the Somali military has been involved in clashes with fighters linked to Ahmed Madobe, president of the Jubaland region.
“Over the last one month, there has been a major fallout between the regional government of Jubaland and the federal government of Somalia,” Roba said. “On Monday, the 2nd of March, the two forces attacked each other with unknown casualties on both sides but left 12 people injured in Mandera town due to stray bullets, where one succumbed to the injuries.”
Officials in Mandera also say a number of people fearing for their safety fled to safer areas because of the violence.
Also this week, Somali media reported that Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo spoke by phone with Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta regarding security and that they agreed to work together on their common interests. Kenya’s president had accused Somalia of a “flagrant breach” of Kenya’s territorial integrity.
Kenya shares a 682-kilometer border with Somalia and has in the past attempted to secure parts of it by building a fence. There have been concerns that terrorists may take advantage of the porous border.
Roba says the situation along the border has Kenyans questioning whether their government can adequately protect them. He says the government needs to expel people whom he calls “foreigners” from Mandera.
“The situation taking shape in Mandera County is that of eroded public trust in their own government as a result of neglect, misplaced priorities, putting the interest of the external region over and above that of its own citizens,” he said. “We refuse to accept that the interests of other external entities supersedes that of our population. We therefore demand that our government expel these foreign forces from Mandera with immediate effect.”
Regional leaders also asked the national government for humanitarian help for the hundreds of internally displaced persons.
Meanwhile, Kenya is considering pulling out of the African Union mission in Somalia after eight years of fighting the Somali militant group al-Shabab. The al-Qaida-linked group has attacked Kenya for its involvement in supporting the AU mission in Somalia. Kenya has also hosted thousands of Somali refugees who fled civil war in their country.