Somaliland: 69 people killed in clashes with soldiers

By Mohammed Dhaysane

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA): Nearly 70 people have been killed and dozens wounded as clashes between Somaliland forces and local clans continued for a third consecutive day on Wednesday.

At least 69 people, including children, have been killed over the past three days in Lasanod, a hospital medic told Anadolu over the phone.

“The first day of fighting was deadly as at least 40 people were killed. Yesterday there were at least 24 more deaths, including soldiers on both sides,” he said, requesting anonymity.

Fartun Ismail Ahmed, a Lasanod resident, told Anadolu that there has been heavy mortar shelling in the city, with residential areas, hospitals, and places of worship also damaged.

Fighting started in Lasanod, the administrative capital of Sool in Somalia’s breakaway region, after a group of local leaders, civil society groups, and religious leaders announced on Monday that they will no longer recognize the Somaliland government.

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

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has faced opposition from some clan elders in the east of the territory who seek to be governed from Mogadishu.

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

Somalia’s government, facing immense public pressure to intervene, on Tuesday called for “immediate cessation of hostilities.”

Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, issued a statement the same day, urging authorities to conduct a “credible and impartial investigation” to determine who is responsible for the violence and hold them to account in fair trials, including for reported damage to homes.

Early last month, at least 20 people, mostly civilians, were killed and 30 more wounded in clashes between protesters and security forces in Somaliland.

The casualties occurred during more than a week of unrest in Lasanod.

The town is disputed between Somaliland and Somalia’s 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.

[Map of Somalia and Somaliland from CIA Factbook/Public Domain]

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