LASANOD, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – Eyewitnesses have reported renewed fighting on the outskirts of LasAnod, a troubled city in northern Somalia.
The conflict, now in its second month without resolution, threatens to exacerbate the humanitarian situation in the region, according to experts and the United Nations.
Over the past two months, rival groups have been engaged in combat, resulting in at least 200 fatalities and over 600 critically injured individuals, as reported by medical professionals.
Furthermore, the conflict has displaced over 200,000 people from the border town.
Differing accounts of the conflict
Accounts of the conflict differ. The Somaliland government claims it held a defensive position during an alleged attack and has “maintained the ceasefire announced by our government.”
Somaliland authorities have also alleged that forces led by the Puntland administration attacked their troops in East LasAnod; however, no concrete evidence has been provided to support these claims.
In contrast, the media office of Khaatumo State reported that Somaliland forces “initiated a major assault on the outskirts of LasAnod city, with “Khaatumo forces stationed in the city defending against secessionist Somaliland forces.”
The renewed fighting may prompt further efforts from the international community to advocate for mediation between the two parties to achieve peace and stability in Somalia.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia has previously urged both parties to find a peaceful solution.
Reconciliation efforts between Somaliland and the SSC-Khatumo have been attempted but have ultimately proven unsuccessful.
The fighting resumes just days after a local committee of 33 Dhulbahante clan elders declared that they would agree to a ceasefire and engage in direct talks with the Somaliland government only if it withdraws its troops from the Sool region.
Opposition members in Somaliland allege that the violence in LasAnod is orchestrated by President Muse Bihi Abdi, whom they accuse of delaying regional elections.
Bihi was expected to facilitate presidential elections in November 2022 but extended his term by two years.
Background of the Conflict
The ongoing conflict was triggered by the assassination of Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi (Hadrawi), the local chairman of Wadani, Somaliland’s opposition party, and the subsequent murder of local entrepreneur Mohamed Ali Saadle.
On February 5, local leaders, clan elders, and notable figures convened in LasAnod to discuss a resolution to the conflict.
They issued a 13-point declaration reinstating the rule of the SSC-Khatumo regions, denouncing Somaliland as a separatist state, and reaffirming their commitment to being part of federal Somalia.
This declaration led to violent clashes, with both sides accusing the other of aggression.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.
The unresolved status has further complicated the situation in the region as the various parties continue to vie for power and influence.