At Least 24 Dead Following Fighting in Somaliland

Armed fighters in Somaliland

At least 24 people have been killed and 53 have been injured in intense fighting in the Somali city of Las Anod, where clan elders have stated their intention to sever ties with Somaliland and rejoin Somalia.

In a second day of violence, local elders reported that the city’s electricity and water had been cut off and that mortars had been fired at a health center.

This week, Somaliland forces returned to Las Anod after being forced to evacuate in early January due to protests sparked by the assassination of Abdifatah Abdullah Abdi, a local opposition member.

The city is contested by Somaliland and Puntland, a semi-autonomous province of Somalia, but local elders from the Dhulbahante clan have rejected both claims, stating that they seek to build a new state inside federal Somalia and pushing Somaliland’s military to withdraw from the region.

Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991, following a bloody civil war, and drew its border around 100 kilometers east of Las Anod.

Somalian president Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud appealed for calm and urged Somaliland to negotiate with Las Anod’s traditional elders.