Somalia: SSC-Khatumo vows to defend Las Anod as Somaliland declares war

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LAS ANOD, Somalia - The ongoing conflict at Las Anod city in Somalia could likely persist for unknown period of time, following animosity between Somaliland military and the SSC-Khatumo forces who have remained defiant in their quest to protect their town and Sool region at large.

While SSC-Khatumo forces are pushing for self-determination, Somaliland troops have maintained huge presence in the town which borders Puntland, another state within Somalia. The local militia wants to be governed from Mogadishu instead of Hargeisa, thus triggering the conflict.

On Sunday, Garaad Mukhtaar Garaad, the spokesperson of the elders pushing for self-determination, insisted that the local militia are not scared with threats by Somaliland troops, noting that the SSC-Khatumo forces have already registered important victories in previous encounters.

"Bring it on baby. Just let us know when you need an exit strategy or way out. Alxamdulilaah for the victory SSC Defence Forces have achieved today from the unexpected attack that was planned by Muse Bihi to disturb the visit to LasAnod by our Traditional Leaders from Mogadishu," he said.

Regional leader Muse Bihi Abdi has remained mum over the ongoing skirmishes in the town but the government has refused to withdraw troops, insisting that Sool region remains part of Somaliland. Somaliland declared self-independence from Somalia in 1991 but the state is yet to be recognized internationally.

Before the tough message from the spokesperson, the Somaliland Armed Forces through their spokesperson had maintained that they will disregard ceasefire and take positions within the city. The spokesperson said they are ready to face the local militia after days of ceasefire, further sparking tensions in the town.

"SNDF has shifted from defensive approach to offensive against foreign invaders in LA," the spokesperson said in his briefing to the media. "Professionally planned strategic military operations will be launched onwards," he added, in what could further escalate tensions in the region.

So far, over 200 people have been killed since fighting resumed about three months ago, with over 2000 critically injured according to doctors operating in Las Anod. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has insisted that the warring parties should embrace dialogue for the sake of stability in Somalia.

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