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Official discussions about Jubaland’s status as an autonomous state in Somalia began as soon as Hassan Sh. Mohamud took office in September 2012. In December, the government in Mogadishu met with Ahmed Mohamed Islam (Ahmed Madobe, following the common Somali use of nicknames for leaders), leader of the Ras Kamboni Brigade (formerly allied to Hizbul Islam), to discuss the prospects for the autonomy of Jubaland. The Ras Kamboni Brigade appears to be in de facto control of Kismayo, a city whose security is currently officially under the control of Kenyan AU/AMISOM troops.
In May, Madobe and several other militia leaders declared themselves president of an autonomous Jubaland, self-appointments which Mogadishu has deemed unconstitutional. On June 7, Defence Minister Abdihakim Mahmoudis Haji visited Kismayo for meetings; when one self-declared president – Iftin Hassan Basto – was on his way to meet Haji, the Ras Kamboni Brigade stopped Basto in the area of Alanley Market (Suuqa Calanley). Clashes erupted between the Ras Kamboni Brigade and the Ormale militia loyal to Basto. The UN and HRW reported that at least 31 civilians died in fighting between June 7 and 8, as militias reportedly rained mortars on areas of the city – particularly on Dalaada, part of Alanley district along the road to the airport.
Someone in Kismayo sent me a text message (SMS) on June 28 that heavy fighting had begun at 15:00 hrs that day, following clashes in which seven were killed on June 27. The fighting appears to have taken place after Col. Abbas Ibrahim Gurey (Abbas Dheere) was detained by AMISOM Sector II troops in Kismayo. The militia loyal to Col. Barre Hirale, a close ally of Abbas Dheere, attacked the Ras Kamboni Brigade and AMISOM troops. The Ras Kamboni Brigade reportedly took full control of the city, but the Somali government has accused Kenyan AMISOM troops of violating their mandate by taking sides in the conflict.
More on Kismayo and Jubaland to follow.