GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) - At least 11 people were killed on Monday after fighting broke out between the Somali federal army and Jubbaland state forces in the Gedo region of southwestern Somalia, a local doctor told Reuters.
Somalia’s federal government confirmed there had been fighting, concentrated in the town of Bula Hawa bordering Kenya. But it and Jubbaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states, reported no casualties.
Mogadishu accused Kenya of backing Jubbaland in the fighting, an accusation that Jubbaland denies.
“Kenya and its guerrilla rebels attacked Bula Hawa town last night,” Osman Dube, Somalia’s information minister, told reporters in Mogadishu. “We overpowered the enemy and captured 100 of them.”
Kenya’s security minister, Fred Matiang’i, said “no troops” had crossed into Somalia and called it an internal Somali matter.
Kenya’s foreign ministry called for hostilities to cease, warning that “the situation could further destabilize the region, complicate the security situation and reverse gains made in the fight against terrorism.”
“We received 11 dead civilians, including five from one family. And 14 other civilians were injured,” Mohamud Gomey, a doctor at Bula Hawa hospital, said.
Mohamud Sayid Aden, Jubbaland’s vice president, told Reuters that federal forces had shelled residential areas.
“The shells landed on a house and killed a family of five people,” he said.
The Somali government blamed local forces for the shelling of residential areas.
The fighting precedes an election on Feb. 8 that was delayed from December because of disagreements between the government and opposition over the make-up of the electoral board.
The bloodshed could further damage strained relations between Mogadishu and Nairobi.
Somalia cut diplomatic ties with Kenya in December, accusing it of political meddling after Somalia expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy after alleging interference in the electoral process in Jubbaland.
Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan; Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Timothy Heritage
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.