Deadly LasAnod conflict spurs US State Dept. action

WASHINGTON, U.S (Caasimada Online) – The United States State Department has expressed its growing concern over the ongoing violence in LasAnod, a disputed town in northern Somalia, joining other international partners and neighboring countries in urging a de-escalation of the conflict. 

In a statement released today, the State Department called for “adherence to the agreed ceasefire, unhindered humanitarian access, and resumption of constructive dialogue towards peaceful resolution.”

The statement further warned that “continued violence will increase the potential for extremist groups to sow broader instability and further exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian crisis.” 

As a show of commitment to peace, the US has called on Somaliland to withdraw its security forces and requested militias in LasAnod to cease any offensive actions against Somaliland forces.

LasAnod conflict claims over 200 lives

According to authorities, the ongoing conflict between security forces and clan fighters in LasAnod has resulted in more than 200 deaths within a month.

The fighting, which began on February 6 and continues sporadically, caused significant damage to infrastructure and homes. 

The mayor of LasAnod, Abdirahim Ali Ismail, reported that “210 civilians were killed and 680 others were wounded” in the clashes.

The 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.

Local leaders seek separation from Somaliland

On February 5, local leaders, clan elders, and notable figures convened in LasAnod to discuss resolving 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. 

They have also urged Somaliland authorities to withdraw their soldiers from the area.

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 various parties continue to vie for power and influence. 

LasAnod, which straddles a key trade route, is claimed by both Somaliland and neighboring Puntland, a semi-autonomous state of northeastern Somalia.  

Delayed presidential elections and visa restrictions

In addition to addressing the violence, the US State Department expressed concern over the delay of Somaliland’s presidential elections, which have been postponed since November 2022. This delay goes against the timeline outlined in Somaliland’s constitution. 

The State Department urged Somaliland authorities to “set a clear timeline and complete the elections as soon as possible.”

The United States has warned that it is prepared to use authorities under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to restrict visa issuance for “current or former Somali officials or other individuals who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia, including in Somaliland.”