Somaliland resists US pressure in LasAnod conflict

HARGEISA, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – In response to international criticism, particularly from the United States, Somaliland Foreign Affairs department issued a statement reiterating the right of the self-declared republic to defend its territorial integrity.

The statement praised “the restraint and professionalism” of Somaliland’s Armed Forces, even as violence in LasAnod continues to escalate.

“The Republic of Somaliland has the right to defend its territorial integrity, and our Armed Forces have been doing so with restraint and professionalism,” the statement read.

It further accused external forces of interference in the conflict, alleging that the ceasefire principles had been violated despite Somaliland withdrawing troops from LasAnod.

Somaliland alleges of involvement by armed groups

Somaliland claims armed groups, including Al-Shabaab, Puntland Security Forces, and the Somali National Army (SNA), are involved in the LasAnod conflict.

Puntland and the Danab Special forces, a contingent of the SNA, has repeatedly denied these accusations.

Over 200 lives have been lost in the ongoing fighting between Somaliland security forces and the SSC-Khatumo forces, who advocate for self-determination.

Many LasAnod residents prefer administration by Mogadishu rather than Hargeisa, the regional capital of Somaliland.

US expresses concern, calls for withdrawal

The United States voiced concerns over the escalating conflict and urged Somaliland to withdraw its security forces from LasAnod.

Additionally, the US supported efforts by the Somali Federal Government to mediate the conflict through traditional elders.

“We call on Somaliland to pull back its security forces as a demonstration of its commitment to these principles. We call on the militias in LasAod to refrain from any offensive actions against Somaliland forces,” the US statement read.

The US also welcomed Somaliland President Bihi’s commitment to meeting with the delegation of elders in Hargeisa.

The United States noted with concern the delayed presidential elections in Somaliland since November 2022, which surpasses the timeline outlined in Somaliland’s constitution.

The US called on Somaliland authorities to establish a clear timeline and conclude the elections as soon as possible.

The struggle for LasAnod

Since yesterday, the city of LasAnod has been bombarded by Somaliland troops attempting to retake the city from local community fighters.

These fighters are advocating for a separate state under Somalia’s Federal System.

The fighting, which began on February 6 and continues sporadically, caused significant damage to infrastructure and homes. 

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

The conflict was triggered by the assassination of Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi (Hadrawi), the local chairman of Wadani, Somaliland’s opposition party, and the subsequent murder of local entrepreneur Mohamed Ali Saadle.