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SSC-Khatumo elders and leaders declare autonomy from Somaliland, sparking violent clashes

Monday February 6, 2023

Las Anod (HOL) - Following two weeks of meetings in Las Anod, the traditional elders and leaders from the Sool, Sanag, and Ayn regions announced on Monday that the three regions would not be part of Somaliland.

The elders said in a statement that the SSC-Khatumo territories are part of the federal republic of Somalia and stand for the unity and integrity of the Somali Federal Republic.

Delegates to the self-described "self-determination conference" elected 45 members to the SSC-Khatumo leadership that would govern the territory under the constitution and laws of Somalia's federal government.

The communique decided that the federal government would administer the SSC-Khatumo until the federalization of the Somali territory was completed.

The statement called for the Somaliland administration to respect the desire of the local people for self-determination and withdraw its troops from the three regions. They added that they would welcome talks with Somaliland only after they entirely withdrew their troops from the region.

The elders' statement reiterated that they were not terrorists and accused Somaliland of perpetrating dozens of killings and targeted assassinations in the past 15 years.

Garad Jama Garad Ali, the supreme traditional clan chief of the Sool, Sanaag, and Ayn regions, told Las Anod residents on Monday to defend themselves and fight the Somaliland Army.

"He who waits for an order to fight while his brother is being killed is a coward. Join the war; why are you waiting? Defend your people, blood, and country, " Garad Ali said.

The government of Somaliland said on Monday morning that militias under the command of traditional elders attacked the army camps, after which a clash broke out. But the elders say that they were attacked.

Elders from Las Anod have disputed Somaliland's claims and said they were attacked in Las Anod with mortar rounds, some of which have hit the local hospital.

At least two Somaliland soldiers were injured early Monday morning when gunmen attacked a Somaliland army base and a hotel housing Somaliland cabinet ministers in Las Anod.

In a press release on Monday morning, the Somaliland Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that the attack was organized by the anti-peace traditional elders in the town, but no one was named.


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