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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Somalia
Somalia: 87 killed as Puntland warns Somaliland 'not to attack civilians'

A Cabinet minister in Somalia's Puntland government has warned the separatist region of Somaliland 'not to attack civilians' after heavy fighting Monday killed at least 87 people, Radio Garowe reports.

A Puntland delegation led by Fisheries Minister Mohamed Farah Aden told Radio Garowe on Wednesday that the delegation is in Buhodle town to assess the drought and the impact of Monday's fighting.

Somaliland troops fought against local clan militias in Kalshale village, which is located near Buhodle, part of Cayn region of Puntland.

Local sources reported that the fighting started between two local clans -- Habar Jelo sub-clan of Isaaq clan and Dhulbahante sub-clan of Harti clan.

But Somaliland troops intervened with full force. At least 65 people were killed on the Somaliland side while the local clans lost 22 men.

Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo belongs to Habar Jelo sub-clan, which is directly involved in the fighting with Dhulbahante clan militia over control of territory.

Puntland's Fisheries Minister Aden warned Somaliland to "stop the aggression" and appealed for peaceful co-existence between Puntland and Somaliland.

"The people of Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions are Puntlanders by blood and we urge Somaliland to stop the aggression," Fisheries Minister Aden said.

Somaliland's Information Minister Ahmed Abdi Habsade told the BBC Somali Service during a Tuesday interview that the death toll was 5 Somaliland soldiers killed and 12 Dhulbahante clan fighters killed.

However, local sources confirmed the massive casualties on both sides and the especially the heavy casualties inflicted upon the Somaliland troops, who lost control of the fighting area.

Somaliland has now amassed more troops in the region and there are fears that more fighting could spark. Somaliland officials, including President Silanyo and Information Minister Habsade, claimed that Puntland is "supporting" the local clans.

But Puntland Fisheries Minister Aden denied the allegations, telling the BBC Somali Service and Radio Garowe during separate interviews that Puntland has the "right to defend its people."

Sool and Sanaag regions, which Isaaq-dominated Somaliland administration claims based on defunct colonial-era borders, is home to Harti clan of Puntland. Observers say this is the reason why Somaliland troops are seen as aggressors in Buhodle, also home to Harti clan.

Since his election in June 2010, Somaliland President Silanyo's administration has come under the strong influence members of the Isaaq-based SNM rebel faction that used to fight against former Somali military dictator Gen. Siyad Barre regime in the 1980s.

Somaliland, located in northwest Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally. Somaliland and Puntland enjoy relative stability compared to the rest of the country.

GAROWE ONLINE

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