Tensions flare up between Somaliland and Puntland with around 20 killed in Las Anod

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LAS ANOD – At least twenty people have been killed during five days of protests in the town of Las Anod, the epicenter of the long-running territorial dispute between the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland in the northern Horn of Africa since 2007.

 

Protesters took to the streets on Tuesday to demand that the Somaliland government finally give up its claims to the town, which it took control of some 15 years ago, marked in part by the forced expulsion of more than 7,200 Somalis in recent months, and hand it over to the Puntland state for good.

The expulsion of Somalis has provoked protests from both the Somali federal state and the international community. However, Somaliland has defended its actions by saying that the evictions were the culmination of several security threats posed by the evictees.

The protests mainly target Somaliland’s president, Muse Bihi Abdi, who they accuse of orchestrating political assassinations against his rivals — such as politician Abdifata Abdulli Hadrawi, shot dead last week by masked men — and other dissidents. He is also accused of clinging to power with an illegitimate mandate, which ended last December, with no elections having been held so far “for technical reasons”, according to the authorities.

The vote was scheduled for Nov. 13, a month before the end of the president’s term, in a call to the polls that was seen as a milestone for a state until a few years ago relatively peaceful that has been seeking international recognition for decades after it declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991.

The president has denied any responsibility for Hadrawi’s death, for which he has accused the “enemies of Somaliland” while opposition parties such as Waddani have urged him to leave power immediately and dedicated their efforts to call for these protests that have resulted in this provisional twenty dead after the intervention of Somaliland security forces, according to the Somali portal Garowe On Line, citing “multiple independent sources”.

The situation has become so serious that the Somali government, the United States and the African Union mission in Somalia, ATMIS, and the United Nations have immediately called for calm. “International partners are concerned about the violence in Las Anod that has caused deaths and injuries among the civilian population,” the UN mission in the African country, UNSOM, said in a statement issued Sunday.

“The prevention of violence and guarantees for the protection of civilians are paramount. We call for calm and restraint. Tensions must be resolved through détente and dialogue,” the UN mission said.

Source: (EUROPA PRESS)

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