Ethiopia denies sending troops to Las Anod, Somalia


JIGJIGA - The Somali region of Ethiopia has dismissed claims that it has sent hundreds of troops to the troubled city of Las Anod, the capital of the Sool region, moments after Somaliland accused Jigjigga of involvement in the skirmishes which have left over 200 people dead and over 600 injured.

For the last month, Somaliland troops have been fighting with SSC-Khatumo forces who are pushing for the self--governance of Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn regions instead of rule by Hargeisa, leading to violent conduct in the area. Somaliland claimed self-independence from Somalia in 1991 following a civil war in the north.

But Ethiopia's Somali region insists news of sending troops to assist the SSC is "false and unwarranted" which could further cause a wage between the two sides. Somaliland runs a parallel government from that of Somalia despite the fact that the region is yet to be recognized internationally.

"We are telling the Somaliland administration that there are no DDS [Ethiopia's Somali regional state] troops who are part of the violence in Las Anod," state-owned Somali Regional TV [SRTV] posted on Facebook recently, perhaps ending the debate about involvement.

The region further denounced the accusations which it termed "reckless", adding that Somaliland was "seeking to reduce political pressure by pointing fingers at non-existing enemies". 

The region further warned Somaliland officials against remarks and actions that could create hostility between communities in the breakaway region of Somalia and those in the south-eastern Ethiopia state. Somalia and Ethiopia have been cooperating well in recent times, especially on matters of security and development.

The statement from Jigjigga was issued hours after Somaliland's cabinet urged the Ethiopian regional state to withdraw troops that it said were supporting SCC fighting against Somaliland forces on the outskirts of Las Anod since 6 February. The town has been a center of skirmishes for over 40 days.

On the other end, Ethiopia has become the first country to dispatch additional troops to Somalia following an agreement between Mogadishu and front-line countries. Kenya and Djibouti are also set to follow suit, in a strategy geared towards sustaining an ongoing crackdown against Al-Shabaab.


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