Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has appealed for an immediate end to the ongoing conflict in the city of LasAnod in the Sool region in Northern Somalia.
The battle between Somaliland government forces and local self-armed residents has resulted in the deaths of 38 individuals and injured 132 others, according to Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, the Director of LasAnod General Hospital.
President Mohamud stated that the challenges in Sool and Sanaag are politically-rooted and are part of the government’s overall policy in seeking a united Somalia.
“The solution to the problems in Sool and Sanaag lies within the realm of politics. It’s incorporated into the overarching policy aimed at seeking unity in Somalia,” the President explained.
He added that he is willing to attend any peace talks and engage with any parties interested in peace. However, he cannot tolerate the obstruction of the people’s will and the exercise of power.
“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,” President Mohamud emphasized.
The President called on traditional and religious leaders to take charge of peace efforts and to engage with those involved in the conflict, asking them to disarm young men carrying weapons.
He said ongoing bloodshed is unacceptable.
The tensions in LasAnod have been escalating over the past month as the local population has voiced their disapproval of the presence of the Somaliland administration and demanded the withdrawal of its troops.
The situation reached a boiling point on Monday when the Somaliland forces attempted to enter the city and were met with resistance from the local residents.
The Somaliland authorities have claimed that their troops were attacked by militias aligned with local traditional elders who had gathered in LasAnod. However, this claim has been disputed by one of the local elders who spoke to the media and stated that the Somaliland army was actually the aggressor.
This conflict arose shortly after the traditional elders, who had been in the city for nearly two weeks, issued a statement rejecting the notion of LasAnod being a part of Somaliland and instead expressing their desire for the region to come under the jurisdiction of the Federal government of Somalia.
The elders’ statement also emphasized the unity and sovereignty of Somalia and the integral role of the SSC-Khaatumo region and its people in the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but the international community has not recognized its independence.
Despite controlling the regions of Sool, Sanag, and Cayn for over 15 years, the Somaliland administration has faced opposition and resentment in the area.
The current crisis, which began in late December, was triggered by the assassination of local youth leader and opposition Waddani Party member Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi (Hadrawi), blamed on Somaliland.
Since the start of the protests, the Somaliland security forces have resorted to using force to quell the situation, leading to casualties and further fueling the conflict.