Somalia: Rebel group attacks police convoy in Somaliland, kills soldiers
HARGEISA, Somalia - Authorities in the breakaway region of Somaliland claim at least nine soldiers were killed by armed militia as the conflict over delayed elections escalated, with stakeholders now calling for dialogue to solve some outstanding issues that have ignited sharp political differences.
At the mountainous areas of Ga'an Libaah, at least 17 other soldiers were badly wounded as the armed militia ambushed them, in yet another violent clash between armed militia and those from government. The region is fighting instability following differences between Muse Bihi Abdi and local politicians.
Gen. Mohamed Aden Saqadhi Dabagale, Somaliland's police commander, said soldiers were ambushed in the area. Also reported on Friday, thousands of locals marched in the streets of Hargeisa and Erigavo, a confirmation that the government is struggling to keep intact.
Somaliland's Interior Minister Mohamed Kahin had claimed that the mobilization was done by Abdirahman Irro, the official leader of the opposition who has since denied it. According to Irro, who addressed the media, he doesn't favour the solution to come through bullet and force.
He urged President Muse Bihi Abdi's government to recall the troops sent to Ga’an Libaah and “give peace a chance.” He also urged the “armed civilians” to lay down weapons for the sake of peace and stability in the state that is fighting for international recognition.
Observers said the dispute that led to the emergence of the armed group is related to the delayed presidential elections in November 2022. The House of Elders gave Muse Bihi a two-year term extension, a move decried by the opposition, which has been calling for protests.
Early this week, President Muse Bihi Abdi announced in a decree that presidential elections will take place on November 13, 2024. Initially, Somaliland elections were set to be held in November 2022 but the delay was occasioned by the electoral commission's sluggish preparations.
Somaliland is also struggling to retake Las Anod, a city within the border with Puntland, where hundreds of people have been killed since early January. Somaliland troops have been fighting with SSC-Khatumo forces in Las Anod even as the international community pushes for a ceasefire.