MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Jubaland troops have taken over the town of Balad-hawo on Somalia’s border with Kenya following an overnight attack on bases housing Somali federal government troops, nearly a year after they had been driven from the town.
Fighting erupted in the town after midnight on Sunday when troops loyal to the fugitive Jubaland Security Minister Abdirashid Janan launched an offensive on Somali military bases on the border.
Following hours of clashes, Jubaland troops captured Balad-hawo and videos circulated online show its forces in the city center, though gunfire ringing out in the background could be heard.
Somali federal government said a “rebel group armed by Kenya” crossed the border on Sunday night and attacked Balad-hawo town.
Jubaland authorities say their troops are in control of the town and managed to drive federal government forces from Balad-hawo.
Precarious calm has been felt in the town over the past months, though the federal government and Jubaland authorities have been trading accusations.
The dispute between the two sides has impacted the country’s elections, with Jubaland administration demanding withdrawal of Somali army troops from Gedo while the federal government insists on keeping its forces in the region.
There have been reports on Monday morning that the Somali army launched a counter-offensive to retake the town and fierce gunfire could be heard.
According to local media, a stray artillery shell hit a home in Balad-hawo, killing 5 civilians.
Casualties caused by the fighting have not been immediately known.
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