Somalia’s president has called for a cease-fire after clashes in a disputed town in the breakaway region of Somaliland left at least 13 people dead.
Both sides accuse the other of starting the fighting; Somaliland insisted it was defending itself from aggression.
“The reason for the confrontation is not due to animosity, but for political reasons,” Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Tuesday. “Therefore, we are sorry and not happy about what is happening there. … Respect the interest of the people, lay down arms, and stop the fighting. Start negotiating.”
Tensions have been building in Las Anod, the capital of the contested Sool region, since December. The region has been a point of conflict between Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, both of which lay claim to the territory.
“The fighting in Las Anod was ignited by a series of killings in the town and the lack of arrests of the perpetrators,” said Mohamed Abdulle, a security analyst and the founder of Daludug Security Services in Somalia. “Somaliland authorities made no arrests to ease the situation. That angered the public.”
Somaliland has been governing the Sool region since capturing it from Puntland in 2008. However, the region has witnessed a series of battles between the two sides. Abdulle warns the fighting in the Sool region could impede the ongoing campaign by the federal government in central regions.
“It is possible these clashes could undermine operations against al-Shabab,” said Abdulle. “Immediately clashes started, al-Shabab attacked a strategic village and briefly held it. Also, Somaliland uses the term terrorism against the locals fighting its soldiers, so that could increase the insecurity.”