LasAnod (Caasimada Online) – At least 112 people have been killed and over 500 injured in intense fighting in LasAnod in Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, according to medical officials.
The director-general of a public hospital in LasAnod, Abdimajid HusseinSugulle, reported the latest figures to Anadolu by phone on Tuesday. He said that Tuesday’s fighting lasted more than seven hours, resulting in eight more deaths and numerous injuries.
Somaliland forces and local clan fighters have been fighting for approximately three weeks. The conflict began after local leaders, civil society groups, and religious leaders in LasAnod announced last week that they no longer recognize the Somaliland government.
They declared that Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, would govern the territory. On the other hand, the Somaliland administration called the local forces “terrorists” and held them responsible for the violence.
The Sool and Sanaag regions have disputed territories, with Somaliland and Puntland state claiming ownership.
Mohamed Husein Gaas, the Director of the Raad Peace Research Institute in Mogadishu, believes that the conflict in LasAnod resulted from Somaliland’s occupation of the Sool region since 2007. This occupation has led to extreme political, economic, and social marginalization and subjugation of the Dhulbahante clan.
Gaas suggests that the only way to resolve the conflict is for Somaliland forces to withdraw from the Sool region immediately and unconditionally.
He recommends that political dialogue between Dhulbahante clan leaders, Somaliland authorities, and the federal government of Somalia, with the support of international actors and UNSOM, would provide an appropriate environment to resolve the conflict.
Isack Abdi, a Somali independent analyst who spoke to Anadolu, suggested that communities of the disputed regions and Somaliland should live together and resolve their issues with dialogue.
He acknowledged that Somaliland has a point in claiming ownership of the territory but condemned their shelling of a town full of civilians, including children and the elderly.
The conflict in LasAnod has also caused mass displacement, with more than 80,000 people being displaced, worsening the drought-induced humanitarian crisis in Sool and Sanaag.
The town is disputed between Somaliland and Puntland, with the neighbors having fought several times over the territory. Protesters were out in LasAnod demanding Somaliland security forces expulsion and the town be handed over to Puntland authorities.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991. Since then, it has been fighting to gain international recognition as a sovereign state. Somalia, on the other hand, claims that Somaliland is still part of its territory.
Over the years, the dispute over the Sool and Sanaag regions has resulted in several clashes between Somaliland and Puntland forces.