More deaths reported as Somaliland army accused of killing prisoners
LAS ANOD, Somalia - At least 30 more people have been killed this weekend amid intensified clashes between the Somaliland army and the SSC-Khatumo forces near Las Anod, a renowned elder has reported, with the death toll now nearing 300, with no action to restore peace going through as of now.
Garaad Abdisalan Hassan said 60 more people were also critically injured on Saturday during the clashes which have now entered the eighth week. Those injured, he said, will be taken to Mogadishu and Garowe for advanced treatment, shunning the possibility of having them treated in Hargeisa.
Saturday's battle lasted for eight hours with both sides claiming to have managed to take in prisoners, and confiscate vehicles and weapons but the assertions could not be independently verified. Elders allied to SSC-Khatumo accused the Somaliland army of killing prisoners of war.
But in response, Somaliland accused "Puntland-led allied" forces of instigating the violence. However, the SSC elders denied this claim and stated that the Puntland was not actively participating in the conflict, noting that Somaliland was only immersed in "wild allegations".
Efforts by the Ethiopian government to broker deals between the two parties are yet to yield fruits with Las Anod elders insisting that the Somaliland army ought to withdraw for mediation to take place. Until now, Somaliland soldiers continue to bomb Las Anod, further fueling tensions.
Abdiqani Mohamud Aateeye, the defense minister of the breakaway region, said so far, the army has captured 20 prisoners, two army vehicles, 15 heavy machine guns, and more than small arms while fighting on the outskirts of Las Anod. He insisted Puntland has been actively involved in the crisis a claim which Garowe has persistently dismissed as "baseless".
The United Nations and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have emphasized the need for both parties to strike an amicable solution. The SSC-Khatumo forces are fighting for a self-governance, a move that has been vehemently opposed by the authority in Hargeisa.
Somaliland claimed it broke away from Somalia over three decades ago, but its efforts to be recognized internationally have failed to yield meaningful results.