Mandera calm after deadly clash between Somali forces

Wednesday March 18 2020
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The shell of a vehicle burnt during a clash between two Somalia forces on March 2, 2020. Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha on Mache 3, 2020 said an assessment is underway to establish the damage caused on the Kenyan side. PHOTO | MANASE OTSIALO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By MANASE OTSIALO

Business is slowly returning to normal in Mandera town a day after Somali military forces clashed in Bula Hawa, a neighbouring town, causing tension and fear.

Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha Tuesday said the situation in Mandera was back to normal.

“After what happened at our common border with Somalia, the situation on our side is back to normal and there is nothing to worry about since the warring parties are back in Somalia,” he said.

He said security forces in Mandera were on the ground assessing the damage caused by the warring military forces from Somalia.

“At the moment I cannot tell how much Mandera has suffered because we are on the ground assessing the situation before we can determine the damage caused on our side,” he said.

Despite Mr Kyatha's assurance that the two military camps that clashed near Mandera had moved further into Somalia, uniformed Jubbaland military officers could still be seen at a local police station Tuesday morning.

Residents living along the common border were Tuesday morning yet to return to their homes, fearing another clash as the Federal Government of Somalia forces were reported to be regrouping in Bula Hawa.

JUBBALAND FORCES

“We cannot have peace so long as the Jubbaland forces are within Kenya and the Federal Government forces are still camping in Bula Hawa,” said Mr Ahmed Issak, a local.

Mr Issak has been forced to move his family from Border Point 1.

Mr Kyatha confirmed that families have been displaced but could not give an exact figure or where the affected locals are currently staying.

“The incident could have affected some families, forcing them out of their homes, but we are yet to know how many were displaced,” he said.

Both Buruburu Primary and Buruburu Secondary schools near the border remained closed for fear of a repeat of the Monday gun battle.

In the town’s central business district, taxi drivers were cautious. “We are operating today with a lot of caution because the war is not yet over so long as the Jubbaland forces are still here in Mandera town,” said a taxi driver who requested anonymity.

FUGITIVE MINISTER

According to him, the Somali forces could be tempted to cross into Mandera town in search of the wanted fugitive minister and his forces.

“FGS forces are so determined to capture Abdirashid Janan and they might cross into this town searching for him,” warned the taxi driver.

The Jubbaland State security minister is wanted for alleged crimes against humanity and escaping from custody.

He arrived in Mandera town on January 30 after escaping from custody in Mogadishu on January 28 where he had been held since August 31, 2019.

LOCAL CAMP

It is alleged that he is being hosted at a local military camp where some of the Jubbaland forces are camping after withdrawing from the Monday clash.

The injured soldiers were on Monday moved from the Mandera County Referral Hospital and taken to a KDF camp for treatment.

Bomb experts from the local military camp in Mandera have been combing the area and detonating explosives left behind by the warring Somalia forces.

“At least two explosives were detonated by KDF forces this morning and they are still around searching for more,” a local administrator at Border Point 1 told the Nation on the phone.

Most shops opened in the morning but the owners were cautious as they feared that another gun fight could erupt.