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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Somalia: Oil exploration triggers deadly clan battle in Puntland

BOSSASO, Somalia Mar 6 (Garowe Online) - A bloody clan battle in Somalia's self-governing State of Puntland last Monday was triggered by aspirations to find oil, Radio Garowe reports.

At least five militiamen were killed and 15 others were wounded in the hours-long battle in Ufayn district, located 90km east of the port city of Bossaso in Bari region.

Puntland security forces tightened checkpoints in and out of Bossaso, as the government dispatched Security Minister Abdullahi Said Samatar and Interior Minister Gen. Abdullahi Ahmed "Ilkajir" to Ufayn to help diffuse the situation.

Traditional elders accompanied the government ministers and troops in efforts to make peace among the two feuding sub-clans, both of which belong to the Majerteen clan (Darod).

The violence has subsided and emerging reports indicate that peace talks among clan militias are going well.

The fighting was deeply rooted in a months-long disagreement over the ownership of a piece of parched land, inside sources said.

The disagreement worsened when one sub-clan that does not traditionally inhabit the area mobilized militias into Ufayn, building a waterhole and a small mosque, the sources added.

The incoming sub-clan was ordered to leave the area by the Puntland government and other local clans to avoid bloodshed, but both feuding clans poured loyal militiamen into the area in a build-up to war.

Local elders who spoke with Radio Garowe admitted that the two sub-clans have never fought each other before.

The remote district of Ufayn entered Puntland media reports in 2008, after Canada-based Africa Oil Corp. contracted an agency named IMC to conduct oil exploration activities in that area.

Africa Oil has a controversial exploration contract in Puntland, after signing a joint-venture deal with Australian mining firm Range Resources, Ltd., in January 2007.

Dr. Abdirahman Farole, Puntland's current ruler, became opposition leader in 2005 after rejecting former Puntland President Adde Muse's unilateral deal with Consort Private, Ltd., a small virtually unknown front company based in Maldives.

The Consort Private deal, which led to Range Resources and Africa Oil, has been the source of international media scrutiny and led to deadly clashes in Sanaag region in April 2006 between Puntland security forces and Warsangeli clan militias.

President Farole has said that the Puntland-Consort Private deal is "under review" to ensure the maximum benefit for the people of Puntland and of all Somalia.

READ: Somalia: Foreign Oil Workers Evacuated From Puntland Exploration Site

Source: Garowe Online

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