Kenya has denied accusations by Somalia that it is stirring up a conflict between the Somali federal government and Jubaland state, where fighting killed more than 20 people this week. Somalia insists its neighbor is behind the political tension and insecurity.
Speaking to reporters in Nairobi Thursday, Kenya government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said his country has nothing to do with the tension between the Mogadishu administration and Jubaland federal state.
"As a country, we want to state very clearly and categorically that we will not accept to be drawn into the internal politics of Somalia. We are therefore calling on all Somali leadership to desist from dragging Kenya into their domestic issues. We will, however, continue to push for peace and therefore urge all leaders in Somalia to create an environment that will facilitate the resolution of the conflict through dialogue,” he said.
On Monday, Jubaland forces and Somali government troops clashed in the town of Beled Hawo, on the Kenya-Somalia border.
The fighting claimed the lives of 21 people, most of them children, and at least 30,000 people have fled their homes, according to the local aid agencies in the region.
Mustaf Abdullahi's nieces were injured in Beled Hawo and are receiving treatment in Mogadishu.
“My sister's house was hit by mortar in the Monday fighting in Beled Hawo. Some of the children were injured and five died. The two girls have received a lot of help and they will be in the hospital for at least 60 days. One of the girls is injured in the stomach and has a broken hand. The other one has suffered a broken hand and a leg,” said Abdullahi.
Visiting the town Thursday to assess the situation, Somalia’s information minister, Osman Dubbe, told journalists his country wants peace but will defend itself from any internal and external attack.
“We will defeat anyone who attacks us. We will defeat both our enemies inside and outside of the country. We want peace, we want good neighborliness, we want brotherhood, but some people do not want to understand that. We want our towns to be peaceful. We want Jubaland, Gedo, and Beled Hawo to be peaceful. When some people refuse to understand that, then the option open for us is to defend ourselves,” he said.
Somalia accuses Kenya of arming the Jubaland forces to attack government positions, an accusation denied by Kenyan officials.
Kenya’s spokesman Oguna said Kenya helps Somalia and a peaceful Somalia is beneficial to his country.
“If this is a country where they run into a situation of violence, how then can we be the same country that is destabilizing that country? Yet this is where they run for refuge. It beats logic. Honestly, it will be counter-productive for Kenya to destabilize Somalia in any way,” he said.
Kenya hosts 270,000 Somali refugees and tens of thousands live and work in small towns and cities.
The East African nation is one of the African countries with a military presence under the AMISIOM is supporting the Somali government in their fight against terror group al-Shabab which has threatened to overthrow the internationally recognized government.