Somalia: Over 200 civilians killed in LasAnod fighting

LASANOD, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – The ongoing conflict in Las Anod, a disputed town in Somaliland, Somalia, between security forces and clan fighters have claimed over 200 lives in a month, according to authorities.

The fighting lasted for 24 days and caused significant damage to infrastructure and homes.

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

The violence erupted after elders in the Sool region pledged support for Somalia’s federal government and urged Somaliland authorities to withdraw their soldiers from the area.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.

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

The ongoing dispute over the town’s ownership has resulted in multiple violent conflicts in recent years.

Damage and displacement

The fighting in Las Anod has caused widespread damage to infrastructure, with many homes and businesses destroyed and critical services like electricity and water supply cut off.

Ismail states, “715 homes were destroyed and 16,000 businesses closed.” The violence has also resulted in the displacement of over 200,000 families from their homes.

One resident described Las Anod as “a war zone,” and many have fled the town.

The UN reports that over 185,000 people have been displaced by the violence, with over 60,000 civilians fleeing to Ethiopia’s Somali region.

Humanitarian crisis in Somalia 

The conflict has created a humanitarian crisis, with many people lacking access to necessities like food, water, and healthcare.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported that one of the hospitals it supports was hit for the fourth time in three weeks, forcing the organization to suspend activities in the pediatrics ward and blood bank.

Djoen Besselink, the MSF country representative for Somalia and Somaliland, called the situation “desperate” and highlighted the “tremendous human suffering” caused by the violence.

Calls for peace

The fighting in Las Anod has alarmed the international community, with several countries, including Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, and the United States, issuing a joint statement urging an end to the violence.

The statement called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire, de-escalate the conflict and allow unhindered humanitarian access.

Despite a ceasefire announced by Somaliland authorities on February 10, the conflict has continued, with accusations of attacks on both sides.

The ongoing violence has left Somaliland poor and isolated, as its quest for statehood remains unrecognized.