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Somaliland Slaughter Substantial: Official


FILE: Illustration of Somaliland flag. Uploaded by VOA May 17, 2019.
FILE: Illustration of Somaliland flag. Uploaded by VOA May 17, 2019.

UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: 24 days of clashes between security forces and clan members in a town in Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland has resulted in hundreds of casualties, a government official said Thursday.

"210 civilians were killed and 680 others were wounded in the fighting which broke out between Somaliland forces and the local community in Las Anod," the mayor of the contested town, Abdirahim Ali Ismail, told a press conference.

"The fighting started on the 6th of February 2023 and continued for 24 days," he said, adding that 200,000 families had fled from their homes following the clashes.

Somaliland, which has claimed independence from Somalia since 1991, but has never been recognized internationally, is often seen as a beacon of stability in a chaotic region.

Political tensions, however, have surged in recent months, leading to deadly violence between government forces and militias loyal to Somalia.

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

The violence erupted after elders in the Sool region, where Las Anod is located, issued a statement pledging support for Somalia's federal government and urged Somaliland authorities to withdraw their soldiers from the area.

The fighting has caused widespread damage across the town, including to its electricity and water supply, said Ismail.

"715 homes were destroyed and 16,000 businesses closed, the water was cut and the troops forcibly stormed the... electricity company which provided light to the town", he said.

"All government institutions have been bombed, the main hospital was bombed including the blood bank department and the intensive care unit", he added.

According to a UN statement released last month, more than 185,000 people have been displaced by the violence, including over 60,000 civilians who have fled to Ethiopia's Somali region.

Somaliland authorities announced a ceasefire on February 10, but days later accused Somalia of attacking its forces.

The fighting has worried the international community, with Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, and the United States among the countries urging an end to the violence in a joint statement released on Tuesday.

"The partners expressed concern about the ongoing conflict... and called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire, de-escalate, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue," the statement said.