Somalia says 11 killed, 100 arrested in fierce clashes near border town

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MOGADISHU, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) — At least 11 people were killed and several others injured following fierce fighting in the town of Beled Hawo between Somali forces and militants of the federal territory of Jubbaland.

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, government spokesman said the Somali forces arrested nearly 100 fighters who are loyal to fugitive Abdirashid Janan, the security minister in Jubbaland.

Eleven people, including nine civilians, were killed during the crossfire. A government soldier and his bodyguard were also killed during the fighting by this militia group which launched a cross-border attack at midnight, Moalimuu told Xinhua on the phone.

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Both sides have claimed victory but independent sources in the town said fierce fighting continued during the day sparking displacement in the town.

“Our forces have also arrested almost 100 fighters,” Moalimuu said, adding that the Somali National Army (SNA) troops are now in full control of the town after they successfully repulsed the attack which was staged by the fighters loyal to the Jubbaland state.

Moalimuu said the death toll could rise since several people including soldiers were injured during the fighting.

Mogadishu has accused neighboring Kenya of backing the militia who launched the attack on Sunday night.

However, Kenya has repeatedly denied the accusations and instead sent a Diplomatic Note to the chairperson of the African Union Commission, calling for cessation of hostilities in neighboring Somalia.

Osman Dubbe, minister for information had earlier said calm had been restored in the city after SNA forces arrested more than 100 fighters.

“Nearly 100 people have been arrested by the army, but we are not allowed to disclose it due to international prison rules,” he said, adding that the army was always ready for any attack by the enemy.

He called on the fighters to surrender to the government and not to be misled again, noting that the government will intensify patrols along the border to ensure peace prevails.

“We will not surrender. We will defend this country. Not a single inch of the country will be invaded by insurgents. We have seized a lot of weapons. Investigations are underway to find out where they are going and who sent them,” Dubbe said.