Somalia: Mortar attack on hospital in LasAnod kills one

LASANOD, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – At least one person was killed and several others were injured in a mortar attack on the main hospital in LasAnod, a disputed city in Somaliland region in Somalia, during an upsurge of violence on Tuesday. 

Dr. Ahmed Abdi, a doctor at the hospital, confirmed that four shells hit the hospital, causing critical injuries to some of the eight people who were wounded.  

The attack destroyed two of the hospital’s three ambulances, exacerbating an already dire situation. 

The conflict in LasAnod, Somalia

LasAnod has been the site of ongoing violence between security forces of Somaliland and clan militia that wish to be part of Somalia.  

Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia three decades ago, seeks international recognition as an independent country.  

However, its claims to Las-Anod are disputed by the neighboring Somali state of Puntland. The conflict has resulted in the displacement of over 185,000 people, with tens of thousands fleeing to Ethiopia. 

Image showing the debris of the hospital building in LasAnod, Somalia after the attack.

The hospital, which faces a severe shortage of drugs, was already overwhelmed with patients recovering from earlier fighting that had killed dozens of people.  

Diplomats and humanitarian groups have expressed concern about the escalating violence in the area, with the United Nations warning that the indiscriminate shelling of civilians is unacceptable and must stop. 

MSF’s response to the crisis

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which supports the hospital in Las-Anod, reported that at least 35 people had died and over 60 others had been wounded in the recent fighting.  

The charity condemned the violence and called for an end to the attacks on civilians. “Indiscriminate violence against civilians is unacceptable,” MSF said in a statement. 

“Our hospital is approaching its capacity, and we urge all parties to respect the neutrality of healthcare facilities and staff.” 

Somaliland government denies responsibility

In response to the mortar attack on the hospital, Somaliland’s defense ministry denied that the army was responsible and described reports of the attack as “fake news” intended to damage the army’s reputation. 

The government has blamed the unrest on “anti-peace groups and terrorism” and has alleged that the al-Shabab extremist group has supported some of the attacks.

The United Nations and international partners have called for an end to the violence and have urged all parties to respect the neutrality of healthcare facilities and staff.

Somaliland’s President, Muse Bihi Abdi, met with the visiting U.S. deputy chief of mission to discuss the crisis last week.