Somaliland refuses to withdraw troops from Sool amid skirmishes in Las Anod
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somaliland state has rejected calls to withdraw soldiers from the Sool region following the ongoing deadly protests in Las Anod, a town disputed between Puntland and Somaliland, which is strategic to the northern part of Somalia.
Somaliland's commander of Armed Forces Brigadier General Mahad Ambashe said the soldiers will not leave Las Anod and to the extent Sool region, arguing that some dark forces were hell-bent to engineer chaos in the breakaway region which is fighting for international recognition.
Surprisingly, Brigadier General Mahad Ambashe said the troops stationed in the Sool region, particularly in Las Anod will continue using extraordinary force to maintain law and order. Excessive use of force has led to the death of over 20 civilians in the town.
"As far as I can understand, the national army has not left [the region] and will not leave," he said. " We shall continue staying in Las Anod and Sool region to ensure law and order has been followed by residents."
On Thursday, the Somaliland forces reportedly started withdrawing from Las Anod following the death of over 20 civilians who were shot dead while engaging in protests. The locals are said to have been disgusted with the death of an upcoming politician who was assassinated.
The commander warned that should anarchy persist in Las Anod, the soldiers will not hastate to return and maintain order. There were reports that the troops were pushed out by local militia who responded to unparalleled deaths of people last week.
While apologizing to locals following the unprecedented deaths of civilians, the commander said Las Anod still remains an administrative unit under Somaliland. This comes a few hours after Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud asked the state to use dialogue to quell tensions.
Regional leader Muse Bihi Abdi had warned the federal government of Somalia and the state of Puntland against meddling in the affairs of Somaliland. The region claimed independence from Somalia in 1991 following a civil war in the northern part of Somalia.