Hargeisa (Caasimada Online) – Somaliland, a separatist region that has claimed independence from Somalia since 1991, has accused Somalia of attacking its military forces despite a ceasefire imposed after intense fighting in the contested town of LasAnod earlier in the week.
Although Somaliland is not internationally recognized as an independent state, it is often viewed as a beacon of stability in a tumultuous region.
Nonetheless, the area has experienced mounting political unease in recent months.
At least 57 people were killed and more than 400 injured in clashes between Somaliland’s armed forces and local militias demanding Somaliland’s withdrawal from LasAnod.
On Sunday, Somaliland authorities in the capital, Hargeisa, claimed that armed forces from the federal government of Somalia launched an attack against their military forces.
While no information was given on possible casualties, the authorities warned Somalia and urged the international community to pressure Mogadishu to withdraw their forces from Somaliland’s border.
The government of Somalia has yet to issue an official response.
The fighting in LasAnod, a town claimed by both Somaliland and neighboring Puntland, a semi-autonomous state in northeastern Somalia, broke out on Monday.
It sits on a crucial trade corridor, and the area’s control has changed several times in recent decades.
On Friday evening, Hargeisa authorities decreed a ceasefire. However, they accused militias loyal to Mogadishu on Saturday of breaking the truce by attacking their soldiers.
On Tuesday, the Red Cross reported that one of its volunteers had been shot dead and urged for restraint and access for neutral and impartial humanitarian actors.
Somaliland has a population of 4.5 million people and is a former British protectorate. It has its own currency, passports, and government, but its bid for statehood has yet to be recognized by the international community, rendering it impoverished and isolated.
However, Somaliland has maintained a relatively stable environment compared to Somalia, which has experienced decades of civil war and Islamist insurgency.
Traditional elders in the Sool region, where LasAnod is located, recently issued a statement pledging support for “the unity and integrity of The Federal Republic of Somalia,” and urged Somaliland authorities to withdraw their soldiers from the area, adding to the already heightened political tension in the region.