Las-anod sees alarming spike in killings as Somaliland boasts of enhanced security

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Las Anod is the administrative capital of the Sool region in northern Somalia. [Screenshot]

LAS ANOD, Somalia - The murders targeting civilians in Las Anod, a disputed city in Somalia's northern Sool region, is becoming the new epicenter of controversy, which could further escalate tensions between the breakaway region of Somaliland and the local community. 

The regional capital was "grabbed" by Somaliland in 2007, even after being part of Puntland for several years. The conflict at the border has soared differences between Hargeisa and the local people, making it difficult for peace to prevail.

A senior Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abdinasir, said the killings were coordinated assassinations, adding that the situation is drastically escalating in the city since 2010 amidst the heavy presence of Somaliland forces.

“The people are being killed in broad daylight in the city as Somaliland forces are in charge of the security and no one was arrested for a single murder,” said the cleric, asking why suck killings are not taking place in other towns in Somaliland like Hargeisa, Burco, and Boroma.

He stated that all killings happening in the town were pre-mediated as locals didn't welcome the presence of Somaliland administration and troops in the Sool region. They support the greater Somalia and the unity of the nation, he added.

In the past ten years, key figures, including Muslim clerics, journalists, politicians, traditional elders, business people as well as activists were killed in the city and no one was prosecuted for the frequent assassinations, according to Sheikh Abdinasir. 

He has blamed the killings on Somaliland as it remained silent and did nothing about the increasing murder cases in the strategic city.

Abdirizak Ahmed Ali, a local councilor elected last May, was killed this week barely three months after he was elected for the post in Sool region. He was reportedly killed near his own house in Las Anod by unknown gunmen.

Mr. Ali, commonly known as [Cardofe], was among 249 councilors in Somaliland elections which took place mid this year. This was the first democratic election in the breakaway region, which has been fighting for international recognition for a couple of years.

While speaking at a graduation ceremony in Amoud university days ago, the president of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi, has boasted that his region is the safest in the Horn of Africa amid ongoing killings in Las Anod.

Abdirahman Ali Ismail, the mayor of the town, said investigations into the killings were ongoing, adding that culprits would be subjected to the full force of the law. He urged residents to remain calm as the matter is being solved.

The conflict can be traced to 1960 when the north got independence from the British, with the south getting her freedom from Italians. After merging for a couple of years, the two sides broke ranks in 1991 after months of civil war.

But despite breaking ranks, Sool, Las Anod, and Sanaag regions have been a center of conflict, with Somaliland and Puntland claiming them. Sometimes back, Puntland accused Somaliland of deploying the military to the common border.

GAROWE ONLINE

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