LAS ANOD, Somalia Nov 10 (Garowe Online) -
The leader of a new rebel outfit fighting for self-determination in north Somalia has claimed responsibility for a string of recent guerrilla attacks on security forces from the separatist region of Somaliland.
Col. Abdiaziz "Garamgaram" Mohamed told the BBC Somali Service that the Somali Unity Defense Alliance (SUDA) is responsible for attacks on the central police station in Las Anod, the provincial capital of Sool region.
"We are fighting against Somaliland forces," Col. Garamgaram said during the interview, which took place on 7 November at a village somewhere between Las Anod and Garowe, the capital of Puntland region.
On 5 November, the rebels attacked the police station with heavy weapons and killed three Somaliland soldiers and wounded five, Col. Garamgaram claimed.
He said the SUDA rebels lost one of their fighters during the nighttime battle.
There was no confirmation of the battle taking place, but Garowe Online reported on 3 November a grenade attack that wounded two Somaliland police officers.
Two Somaliland policemen wounded in Las Anod attack
"I am a native of Puntland, but SUDA does not get any support from Puntland government," Col. Garamgaram said while responding to accusations from Somaliland officials that SUDA backed by Puntland to create instability in Las Anod.
The rebel commander said Las Anod is "under occupation" and he will fight until he expels Somaliland forces from Sool, Sanaag and Ayn (Buhodle) regions.
Col. Garamgaram was last remembered as one of Gen. Mohamed Hersi Morgan's henchmen during the Kismayo wars against Col. Barre Hirale in the early 2000s.
He said he returned to Las Anod when Somaliland troops took the town for the first time since the disintegration of Somalia in 1991.
According to Col. Garamgaram, the SUDA rebels get financial support from inside the country and abroad.
Somaliland, which seeks independence from Somalia, claims legal ownership over Sool and Sanaag regions under colonial-era boundaries.
Puntland claims the regions' inhabitants are united by kinship ties and are well-represented in the regional authority, which seeks to remain part of federal Somalia.
Presidential elections are coming up in January 2009 in Puntland and several candidates have already warned the government against opening a war with Somaliland.
Puntland leader says govt will appoint election commission
Source: Garowe Online