Somalia: Puntland forces declare victory in battle against Somaliland troops
GAROWE, Puntland - Special Forces from the Puntland "army" have successfully repulsed an aggressive attack waged by troops loyal to the breakaway region of Somaliland, officials said, during Wednesday's nasty clashes in Sanaag region, in the north of Somalia, Garowe Online report.
Troops from secessionist Somaliland invaded parts of Sanaag region on Wednesday morning, which is controlled by Puntland, a Federal state of Somalia, precipitating a fierce battle between the two sides.
Somaliland forces have encountered fierce resistance and suffered heavy losses during the combat at Kadhada town, located about 18 kilometers from the Yube town, according to the Puntland army statement seen by Garowe Online.
Puntland defense forces claimed victory in the fighting against the invading troops, saying fifty  soldiers from Somaliland were captured and seized firearms and military vehicles, although it's not clear the next course of action that will be taken against them, the statement noted.
"Our gallant troops neutralized encroaching Somaliland troops and after a battle at Kadhadha, they managed to control and streamline operations," the statement read.
Intermittent clashes between Puntland security officers and their Somaliland counterparts are common along their border, which has been subject to disputes over the control of Sool and Sanaag regions.
Also, several sophisticated firearms and military vehicles were seized by the Puntland forces during the fight, which took place for the better part of Wednesday, authorities said.
"The troops managed to capture alive fifty soldiers during the battle. Also, several military vehicles and sophisticated arms were seized," the statement read.
However, the number of casualties could not be immediately established due to the complex nature of the battle which lasted for several hours.
Somaliland troops seized control of Tukarag village in Sool region from Puntland forces in early 2018, leading to heavy casualties on both sides and mass displacement.
Melancholically, the latest standoff could deal a blow to ongoing reconciliation efforts between Somalia and Somaliland, which has seen Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed push for a truce.
Already, Mr. Ahmed, who met President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi, has deployed his team to Hargeisa to access possible historic visit that would feature him and Farmajo, reports indicated.
Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991 after a bloody civil war but Mogadishu is yet to formally recognize it, thus the ongoing mediation efforts. It's also yet to be accorded republic status by the United Nations.
But of more essence is the involvement of Puntland, which has also been at loggerheads with Mogadishu in recent months, our sharing of resources and common ground on election law.
Although the crisis is yet to degenerate to a serious squabble, the federal government has, however, shown its brutal part by deploying troops to neighboring Jubaland in Gedo.
But the move was on Monday dismissed by the US as "unnecessary" with both parties asked to explore negotiations and dialogue over the impasse.
Puntland forces are also critical in the fight against Al-Shabaab and ISIS-linked militants in Bari region, which is yet to make any significant inroads within the northeastern state.