Alarm as Somalia deploys soldiers to Mandera border

Somalia National Army soldiers

Somalia National Army soldiers at Bulahawa town on May 11, 2016.  The Somalia National Army (SNA) was deployed to the border with Kenya a few hours after it cut diplomatic ties on December 15, 2020.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A few hours after Somalia announced it was cutting diplomatic ties with Kenya, the Somalia National Army (SNA) was deployed to the common border.

In Mandera County, residents reported seeing SNA troops taking strategic positions along the border.

“We have woken up to the sight of military officers along the border. This is very worrying,” said resident Ali Abdille.

SNA’s move, including placing technical vehicles at Border Point Three, forced locals to start leaving their homes in case of danger.

A senior security officer in Mandera, who sought anonymity, confirmed the arrival of the Somali military officers.

“We have information about what is happening along the border but that is an issue that will be decided by higher offices in Nairobi,” the source said.

Strained relations

Somali Minister for Information Osman Dubbe announced on national TV early Tuesday that his country was cutting diplomatic ties with Kenya.

Dubbe said Kenya had “constantly interfered” with Somalia’s internal affairs and that Nairobi was violating Somalia’s sovereignty.

The announcement came as President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted Somaliland President Muse Bihi in Nairobi.

Mandera businessman Issack Adan said: “We are asking Nairobi to ensure any issue between the two countries is resolved for peace to prevail.”

“This situation is going to affect business interactions between Mandera and Somalia since we get most of our goods from there,” he added.

Mandera relies heavily on Mogadishu for business supplies considering the long distance to Nairobi.