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Deadly clashes resume between Somaliland and SSC militias in Las Anod

Saturday March 18, 2023


Hargeisa (HOL) - Somaliland has accused "Puntland-led allied" forces of attacking its troops in East Las Anod at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. The Somaliland government stated that it was holding a defensive position when the alleged attack occurred and that it had "maintained the ceasefire announced by our government." There had been little fighting for nearly two weeks prior to this latest clash.

In contrast, Khaatumo State's media office reported that Somaliland forces had launched a "heavy attack on the outskirts of the city of Lasanod" and that "Khaatumo forces stationed in the city are defending the city from the secessionist Somaliland forces." The SSC forces stated that the Somaliland attack took place in the Maraaga area and that "local resistance fighters have repelled the attack."

The fighting comes just days after the local committee of 33 elders of the Dhulbahante clan declared that they would only agree to a ceasefire and enter into direct talks with the Somaliland government after it withdraws its troops from the Oog region.

The conflict between Somaliland forces and the SSC militias in and around Las Anod in the eastern Sool region of Somalia has resulted in over 200 deaths and the displacement of approximately 200,000 people since it began in December 2022.

The conflict was sparked by the December assassination of Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi (Hadrawi), the chairman of Somaliland's opposition party, Wadani, and the early January assassination of a local businessman, Mohamed Ali Saadle. These killings triggered protests against the Somaliland administration and increased fighting between the Somaliland military and SSC militia. Hargeisa's forces used force to suppress the demonstrations before withdrawing from Las Anod in the face of mounting local and international pressure. Somaliland leaders attempted to ease tensions by launching an investigation, while Puntland condemned the protest killings as a massacre.

On February 5, local leaders, clan elders, and notable figures gathered in Las Anod to discuss a resolution to the conflict. They issued a 13-point declaration in which they reinstated the rule of the SSC-Khatumo regions, denounced Somaliland as a separatist state, and reaffirmed their commitment to being part of federal Somalia. The declaration led to violent clashes, with both sides pointing the finger at one another as the aggressor.

International condemnation of the fighting in the area has led to mediation efforts by Ethiopia and requests for humanitarian aid due to concerns about further escalation.


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