More than 20 'pro-greater Somalia' protesters killed in Lasanod
LAS ANOD, Somalia - Over 20 people have been killed in the break-away region of Somaliland in Las Anod, multiple independent sources have confirmed, following unprecedented clashes between civilians and elite police as demonstrations take a notch high in the northern city.
The violent confrontations entered the 5th day as civilians poured into the streets to protest against the administration of Muse Bihi Abdi with his government accused of instigating political assassinations, usually targeting people believed to be against the government.
Somaliland government is also under pressure from opposition leaders who are calling for presidential polls, which have been delayed over what they term as "flimsy grounds". The government of Muse Bihi Abdi had the term expiring in November but elections are yet to be held.
The protests started last week after the assassination of rising politician Abdifatah Abdulli Hadrawi by masked attackers. The opposition accuses the government of playing a role behind the assassination, but there are no independent investigations to support the claims.
But the regional President Muse Bihi Abdi accused the “enemy of Somaliland” of being behind the killing. Bihi sent condolences and urged the residents to stay calm and protect the peace, but the protests seem to take a new dimension with politicians ganging against the government.
In a statement, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sent condolences to families whose loved ones were killed in the violence and urged Somaliland to find another way to end the ongoing unrest without using bullets. Hassan Sheikh said the people of Las Anod should borrow a leaf from the recent gains in the country which has seen relative stability.
"On reports of violence in Lasanood, we join Somali voices calling for calm. Peace and the rule of law must prevail over violence against civilians and destruction of property, " read the statement from the United States embassy in Somalia while calling for calmness and stability.
Somaliland region claimed independence from Somalia in 1991 but the state is yet to be internationally recognized. Somalia has opposed such a move, noting that any attempts to recognize the region will be against the territorial integrity standards and sovereignty.