Somalia: Somaliland asked to withdraw troops from SSC regions

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LAS ANOD, Somalia - Leading elders in Las Anod, a capital city of the Sool region said they are ready to enter into formal talks with the Somaliland administration once its troops withdraw from SSC provinces.

According to Abdirizak Mohamed Hassan, the spokesman of the 33-member SSC elders' committee, there will be no ceasefire as long as the Somaliland troops have continued to bombard the town without a stop for the last six weeks.

Hassan said the regional soldiers have surrounded the city effectively affecting daily operations, and further fueling tension and violence.

Somaliland troops have been fighting against SSC-Khatumo forces who are pushing to "be free" from Somaliland, a region that said it seceded from Somalia three decades ago.

Early this week, regional leader Muse Bihi Abdi noted that his administration was ready for dialogue but the elders insisted that the government has continued to reign terror on the people without giving room for dialogue. Bihi was noncommittal about the pullout from the SSC - Sool, Sanaag, and Cayn.

Las Ando battle started early last month after local people staged an uprising against the presence of Somaliland troops in SSC, accusing them of being behind series of assasinations in the city.

Locals have been pushing for a Federal State under Somali Federal System, something which was rejected by authorities in Hargeisa.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud urged all sides to stop the conflict in Las Anod, adding that there is a need for an immediate ceasefire.

So far, over 200 people have been killed with doctors saying hospitals have been demolished by Somaliland shelling. In addition, over 2000 people have been displaced with medics saying over 800 others are nursing injuries.

The International community called on the rival sides to embrace a ceasefire for the sake of curbing possible humanitarian conflict.

Bihi is also facing internal rebellion at home with opposition leaders accusing him of deliberately using the conflict to continue delaying elections that were due last year.

GAROWE ONLINE

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