Deadly conflict in LasAnod, Somalia enters third day

LasAnod (Caasimada Online) – The ongoing conflict in the city of LasAnod in the Sool region in northern Somalia has entered its third day, with reports of new areas being affected, according to eyewitnesses and city officials. 

The violence erupted on Monday when Somaliland forces tried to enter the city and were met with resistance from residents who reject being under Somaliland’s administration.

“At least 40 people have been killed, and over 150 others have been injured since the fighting began,” reported Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, the Director of LasAnod General Hospital.

Eyewitnesses in the Gooja-Adde area reported intense fighting between Somaliland forces and SSC regional troops. “Both sides are exchanging heavy fire, including the use of heavy weapons and artillery,” a resident said.

The international community has expressed grave concern about the violence in LasAnod and has called for an immediate end to the fighting. 

“We call for an immediate de-escalation of violence, the protection of civilians, unimpeded humanitarian access, and for tensions to be resolved peacefully through dialogue,” stated Somalia’s international partners.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has also called for an independent and impartial investigation into the clashes. 

“I am concerned by reports of continuing clashes and the potential consequences they could have on the already fragile humanitarian situation in the region,” Türk stated. “I call on the authorities to conduct a credible and impartial investigation into the clashes and hold those responsible accountable in fair trials.”

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has also appealed for an immediate end to the conflict. “The solution to the problems in Sool and Sanag lies within the realm of politics. It’s incorporated into the overarching policy aimed at seeking unity in Somalia,” the President explained. 

“The will of the people cannot be resolved through the use of force. Their will must be respected, weapons must be laid down, hostilities must cease, and a negotiating table must be set.”

The tension in LasAnod has been escalating over the past month due to the local population’s opposition to the presence of Somaliland’s administration and demand for the withdrawal of its troops. 

Despite controlling the regions of Sool, Sanag, and Cayn for over 15 years, Somaliland has faced opposition and resentment in the area.

The current crisis was triggered by the assassination of local youth leader and opposition Waddani Party member Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi (Hadrawi), who was blamed on Somaliland. 

The Somaliland security forces have used force to quell the situation, leading to casualties and further fueling the conflict.