Seventh day of intense fighting in LasAnod, Somalia with casualties mounting

LasAnod (Caasimada Online) – The ongoing conflict in the northern Somali city of LasAnod between the Somaliland forces and local forces continues for the seventh consecutive day, with official reports indicating significant casualties.

The battle reportedly began this morning when the Somaliland forces stationed near LasAnod initiated an attack and engaged in combat with local forces.

According to reliable sources, intense fighting is taking place in the neighborhoods of Gooye, Mooragaan, and the Qooja-cadde camp near LasAnod, with both sides exchanging heavy fire. This has led to indiscriminate bombing of residential areas in the city, as reported by local residents.

A ceasefire declared by Somaliland authorities on Friday evening was short-lived and broke down a few hours later, leading to the resumption of fighting on Saturday morning.

At least nine people have been reported killed and fourteen others injured in Saturday’s skirmishes, according to a local government official and a medic.

The death toll in the seven-day conflict between antigovernment fighters and Somaliland security forces in LasAnod has risen to 57. The Director-General of a public hospital in LasAnod, Abdimajid Hussein Sugulle, reported that over 400 people had been wounded in the week-long fighting.

The conflict in LasAnod, the Sool region’s administrative center, erupted on February 6, 2023, after a committee of local leaders, religious scholars, and civil society groups declared their rejection of the Somaliland administration and their desire to rejoin Somalia.

Somaliland and the Somali state of Puntland have been in dispute over LasAnod for years, with the city currently under Somaliland’s control.

The Somaliland government has accused clan militants of targeting its army facilities, while traditional elders have accused Somaliland forces of invading the city and have demanded that the troops leave as the only means of restoring peace.

The United Nations reported that the fighting displaced over 80,000 people and resulted in a cut of water and electricity.

In a joint statement earlier this week, the U.N. and international partners stated, “The indiscriminate targeting of civilians is unacceptable and must come to an end.” According to the Somali Red Crescent Society, the casualties include one of its volunteers who was killed by a stray bullet.

The current crisis was sparked by the assassination of a local youth leader and opposition Waddani Party member in late December, which was attributed to Somaliland and led to an increase in violence and casualties.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has yet to receive widespread international recognition for its status. It has faced opposition from some clan elders in disputed areas along its border with Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland state.

In response to the escalating crisis in Laascaanood, the Bureau of African Affairs of the U.S. Department of State released an official statement declaring that the “indiscriminate targeting of civilians is unacceptable and must be brought to a halt.”

The U.S. government has called for an immediate cessation of violence in Laascaanood, protection of civilians, unrestricted access for humanitarian aid, and a peaceful resolution through dialogue.