At least 112 people have been reportedly killed and more than 500 wounded in fierce fighting in the town of Lasanod in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland.
Abdimajid Hussein Sugulle, the director-general of a public hospital in Lasanod, provided the latest figures from the fighting between Somaliland forces and local clan fighters, which has been going on for around three weeks.
“More than eight people were killed in today’s heavy fighting alone, and many others were wounded. Some of those hit by bullets and shells were admitted to hospitals,” Sugulle stated.
He said Tuesday’s fighting was among the fiercest and continued for more than seven hours.
He added that the casualties included medical workers.
Fighting started in Lasanod, the administrative capital of Somaliland’s eastern Sool region, after a group of local leaders, civil society groups and religious leaders announced last week that they would no longer recognize the Somaliland government.
In a statement, they said the territory will now be ruled from Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.
The Somaliland administration has labelled the local forces “terrorists” and blamed them for the violence.
Mohamed Husein Gaas, director of the Raad Peace Research Institute in Mogadishu said:
“This prolonged occupation has led to extreme political, economic and social marginalization and subjugation of the Dhulbahante clan, which includes the assassinations of more than 120 prominent community leaders and clan elites. In response, the Lasanod population rose up to demonstrate against Somaliland, where Somaliland used excessive force against demonstrating civilians.”
He said the only feasible and viable solution to the conflict in Lasanod is an immediate, unconditional and genuine cease-fire.
Somaliland forces must also withdraw from the Sool region, he said.
According to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, the clashes have displaced more than 80,000 people, compounding the drought-induced humanitarian crisis in Sool and Sanaag.
“Each day, around 1,000 Somalis are crossing into Ethiopia to escape clashes in Laascaanood (Lasanod), Sool region. So far, more than 60,000 have arrived,” the UN said earlier this week.