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At least 112 people killed in fighting in Somaliland

Fighting in Lasanod, among the fiercest in weeks, continued for more than 7 hours Tuesday

At least 112 people have been killed and more than 500 wounded in fierce fighting in the town of Lasanod in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, a medical official said Tuesday. 

Abdimajid Hussein Sugulle, the director-general of a public hospital in Lasanod, provided the latest figures to Anadolu by phone from the fighting between Somaliland forces and local clan fighters, which has been going on for around three weeks.

“More than eight people were killed in today’s heavy fighting alone, and many others were wounded. Some of those hit by bullets and shells were admitted to hospitals,” said Sugulle.

He said Tuesday’s fighting was among the fiercest and continued for more than seven hours.

He added that the casualties included medical workers.

Fighting started in Lasanod, the administrative capital of Somaliland’s eastern Sool region, after a group of local leaders, civil society groups and religious leaders announced last week that they would no longer recognize the Somaliland government.

In a statement, they said the territory will now be ruled from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

The Somaliland administration has labelled the local forces “terrorists” and blamed them for the violence.

The Sool and Sanaag regions have been disputed territories with both Somaliland and Puntland state claiming ownership.

Mohamed Husein Gaas, director of the Raad Peace Research Institute in Mogadishu, who spoke to Anadolu over the phone, said the conflict in Lasanod is rooted in Somaliland's “occupation” of the Sool region since 2007, which is against the will of the overwhelming majority of the local population.

“This prolonged occupation has led to extreme political, economic and social marginalization and subjugation of the Sool clan clan, which includes the assassinations of more than 120 prominent community leaders and clan elites. In response, the Lasanod population rose up to demonstrate against Somaliland, where Somaliland used excessive force against demonstrating civilians,” he said.

He said the only feasible and viable solution to the conflict in Lasanod is an immediate, unconditional and genuine cease-fire.

Somaliland forces must also withdraw from the Sool region, he said.

“Implementing these two things can provide a good environment conducive to political dialogue between Sool clan clan leaders, Somaliland authorities and the federal government of Somalia with the support of international actors and UNSOM,” he added, referring to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia.

Isack Abdi, a Somali independent analyst who spoke to Anadolu, said he believes both communities of the disputed regions and in Somaliland should live together as they have their entire lives and resolve their issues with dialogue.

He said although Somaliland has a point in claiming ownership of the territory, they should stop shelling a town full of civilians, including children and the elderly.

“The territory was part of the area that was under the British protectorate, but I can see that both sides have points. But they shouldn’t be fighting while there are other ways to resolve the outstanding issues,” he said.

The conflict in Lasanod has also caused mass displacement.

According to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, the clashes have displaced more than 80,000 people, compounding the drought-induced humanitarian crisis in Sool and Sanaag.

“Each day, around 1,000 Somalis are crossing into Ethiopia to escape clashes in Laascaanood (Lasanod), Sool region. So far, more than 60,000 have arrived,” the UN said earlier this week.

The town is disputed between Somaliland and the semiautonomous state of Puntland, with the neighbors having fought several times over the territory.

Protesters were out in Lasanod to demand the expulsion of Somaliland security forces and for the town to be handed over to Puntland authorities.

TRT World

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Tens of thousands of refugees flee from Somaliland clashes

More than 60,000 Somali refugees have fled to Ethiopia after an escalation in fighting in the town of Las Anod, in the Sool region, where tensions between local people and the governing Somaliland authorities have been building for weeks.

The UN said the refugees had arrived in part of Ethiopia that had been badly hit by drought after five consecutive failed rains, and that many people were sleeping in the open, or sheltering in schools and other public buildings.

Olga Sarrado Mur, spokesperson for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said: “Exhausted and traumatised, they have arrived with very little, only taking what they could carry. Women told staff from UNHCR that they had had to sell their belongings to pay for transportation to reach safety. Many of them have lost loved ones in the clashes or have been separated during flight.”

The UN said 89% of the 185,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) from Las Anod and surrounding areas were women and children, who were without proper shelter. The Red Crescent said some people had been displaced earlier from areas facing severe drought after repeated failed rains.

At least 82 people have been killed in fighting that has involved shelling of civilian areas, with damage to health facilities, as well as electricity and water supplies, the UN said.

According to Unicef, the UN children’s agency, the damage had left the displaced Somalis with limited sources of water and sanitation, and 80% were having to defecate in the open.

Markus Virgil Höhne, a social anthropologist at Leipzig University and specialist on northern Somalia, said the fighting had forced the local population into rural areas and put pressure on resources.

He said 90% or more of the people had been displaced. “What’s left in Las Anod is the fighters,” he said. “The dry season is from November to March, which is already a difficult time – not enough food, not enough water for the ordinary countryside populations. Now you add hundreds, or even thousands, of IDPs and this means it’s becoming a dire situation.”

The Sool region was claimed by Somaliland as part of its territory after it unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but its authority has been disputed by members of the Sool clan clan.

Tensions have mounted since late December, when a local opposition leader, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi, was killed, sparking protests. Somaliland forces were accused of firing on the protesters, killing 20 people, which led to Somaliland withdrawing its forces from Las Anod in January.

Fighting began earlier this month after Sool clan elders declared that the Sool region was no longer part of Somaliland and they would form a separate state within Somalia’s federal system.

Höhne said the violence reflected a deeper problem of where Somaliland’s borders lay and whether all those living within the territory it claimed were willing to be part of the breakaway state.

“What is at stake [for the people of Las Anod] is a real question: do we accept the secession of Somaliland?” he said. “Do we want to be part of an independent Somaliland or part of Somalia?”


The Somaliland government has downplayed the grievances and claimed al-Shabaab militants had infiltrated the area to create disruption.

Nicolas Delaunay, east and southern Africa project director at the International Crisis Group, said Somaliland had not provided concrete evidence of al-Shabaab’s involvement and that deeper issues behind the conflict must be addressed quickly.

“What Somaliland is probably trying to do by saying there are terrorists involved in the fighting is to discredit their opponent,” Delaunay said. “It is conflating the issue in a sense and hiding what the political issues are and what the local grievances are.”

He said: “If you let the situation fester, it could become worse. There are a number of actors who called for an immediate ceasefire and it really is the way to go. They need to come to the table and discuss together the future of this region – such conflict can escalate quite quickly.”

The Guardian

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