Somaliland army forced to retreat from LasAnod

LasAnad (Caasimada Online) – The military of the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland, in northern Somalia, was forced to retreat to army bases on the outskirts of LasAnod on Thursday after anti-government protesters and local militias stormed the city.

There were reports of overnight skirmishes, but the number of casualties is currently unknown. 

Residents were celebrating their takeover of the city after a 11-day struggle in which they withstood various barriers including the use of force and lack of access to telecommunications.

The current protests, which have been ongoing for over a week, were sparked by the assassination of a prominent local figure, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi Hadrawi, after he left a mosque.  

The killing has sparked outrage in the previously stable region and led to the deaths of at least 20 people after Somaliland forces used excessive force to quell the protest. Somaliland authorities also cut off internet and phone service in LasAnod.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi has apologized for the deaths of civilians in LasAnod and promised to investigate the incident. 

He has also pledged to withdraw troops from the town once stability has been restored. However, he has accused the federal government of Somalia and the regional government of Puntland of interfering in Somaliland affairs. 

In response, Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni threatened a “military and political solution” if the situation in Somaliland persists. 

The town has been at the center of a longstanding border dispute between Somaliland and Puntland over control of the area for more than a decade. 

The impact of the violence on the local population has been significant, with many residents fleeing the city for fear of further clashes—those who remain live in fear and uncertainty, with the threat of violence hanging over them. 

The militias that have taken control of the town have made it clear that they will use force to achieve their goals and have threatened to burn down telecommunications firms if they attempt to shut off the internet and phones. 

The situation has also harmed the local economy, with businesses shutting down and people unable to go about their daily lives.  

The fear and uncertainty caused by the unrest have ripple effects in the broader region, potentially destabilizing the area even further.

The international community has expressed concern about the ongoing violence in LasAnod and called for an end to the use of excessive force.  

They have urged all parties to engage in dialogue to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. 

However, despite these efforts, the situation remains volatile, and there is a real risk of escalating further.