A total of 210 people lost their lives over 24 days of clashes between security forces and clan members in a town in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland, a government official said Thursday.
“210 civilians were killed and 680 others were wounded in the fighting which broke out between Somaliland forces and the local community in Las Anod,” the mayor of the contested town, Abdirahim Ali Ismail, told a press conference.
“The fighting started on the 6th of February 2023 and continued for 24 days,” he said, adding that 200,000 families had fled from their homes following the clashes.
Somaliland, which has claimed independence from Somalia since 1991, but has never been recognized internationally, is often seen as a beacon of stability in a chaotic region.
Political tensions, however, have surged in recent months, leading to deadly violence between government forces and militias loyal to Somalia.
Las Anod straddles a key trade route and is claimed by both Somaliland and neighboring Puntland, a semi-autonomous state of northeastern Somalia.
The violence erupted after elders in the Sool region, where Las Anod is located, issued a statement pledging support for Somalia’s federal government and urged Somaliland authorities to withdraw their soldiers from the area.
Somaliland authorities announced a ceasefire on February 10, but days later accused Somalia of attacking its forces.
The fighting has worried the international community, with Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, and the United States among the countries urging an end to the violence in a joint statement released on Tuesday.
“The partners expressed concern about the ongoing conflict… and called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire, de-escalate, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue,” the statement said.