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International community "gravely concerned" about Las Anod clashes, calls for restraint

Tuesday February 7, 2023

FILE PHOTO/ Qoriley Flickr 
Mogadishu (HOL) - The international community said it was "gravely concerned" about the violent clashes in Las Anod that have resulted in dozens of civilian casualties. 

A joint statement released on Tuesday by several countries and intergovernmental organizations called for "immediate de-escalation of violence, the protection of civilians, unimpeded humanitarian access and for tensions to be resolved peacefully through dialogue."

The statement was signed by the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), Belgium, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, European Union (EU) Delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Netherlands, Norway, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Türkiye, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and United Nations. 

The statement comes as 24 people were killed and 53 seriously injured after Somaliland security forces and anti-government fighters clashed for the second straight day.
On Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, called on the Somali authorities to conduct an independent, effective, and impartial investigation into the deaths of civilians.

"At least 20 people have been killed, and an estimated 119 others injured in Laas Canood – among them children – in fighting between the security forces and members of a local clan," said Türk. "I am concerned by reports that the clashes are continuing today with additional claims of new casualties."

"These potentially unlawful killings come just a month after at least 20,000 people were displaced by clashes in Laas Canood, and could contribute to further displacement, compounding the already fragile humanitarian situation in the region."

Both sides said that they were attacked first.

The Somaliland government said armed men attacked army bases and administrative offices in Laascaanood early Monday morning. It accused unnamed "traditional leaders"  of recruiting the attackers.

Officials and elders from the disputed Las Anod region said that Somaliland forces attacked them as retaliation for declaring their autonomy from the breakaway Somaliland government. The skirmish came hours after a committee of local leaders, religious scholars, and civil society groups said they did not recognize the Somaliland administration and sought to be administered by Somalia's federal government.

"We have decided that the Federal Republic of Somalia will administer the (SSC) regions until federalization of Somali territory is completed," the committee said.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has yet to be recognized internationally.

A doctor at Las Anod's largest hospital told Reuters that at least 34 people were killed and another 40 wounded in Monday's clashes.

Somalia's federal government broke its silence on the Las Anod conflict on Tuesday, with the President calling for calm and restraint, while the interior ministry said it supports the SSC's call for self-determination.


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