Somaliland accuses UAE-trained soldiers of invasion in Las Anod
HARGEISA, Somalia - The breakaway region of Somaliland has linked the United Arab Emirates-trained Puntland Marine Police Force [PMPF] to fueling the conflict in Las Anod, over seven months into fierce fighting in the northern state of Somalia, which is pushing for international recognition.
In a statement by the Ministry of Defence, Somaliland claimed the PMPF has been waging attacks against the region instead of focusing on fighting terrorists and pirates along the Indian Ocean as envisaged in their mission. The force is allegedly fighting with the Somaliland army, the statement underscored.
Las Anod conflict has left over 200 people dead with locals under SSC-Khatumo fighting to be governed from Mogadishu instead of Hargeisa. Locals accused Somaliland troops of unleashing terror on them as the conflict escalated five months ago, with the international community seeking urgent solutions.
Also accused of fighting the Somaliland army in the outskirts of Las Anod are Puntland security forces who were trained by the United States in the fight against terrorism, with Somalia soldiers who recently graduated from Eritrea also dragged into the accusations, in what could trigger fresh fighting in the region.
A few months ago, Puntland denied involvement in the Las Anod conflict with regional leader Said Abdullahi Deni threatening to support SSC-Khatumo forces if Somaliland refused to withdraw her army from Las Anod. Already, Hargeisa insists that it has withdrawn her troops from Las Anod to its borders.
The local leaders in Las Anod also denied terrorists are involved in the ongoing conflict, with the US-Trained Danab commandos also denying involvement. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had asked conflicting parties to embrace dialogue for the sake of stability and peace in the region.
Somaliland now insists that it will have no option other than to "defend our territory" should the troops from Puntland fail to leave. The region accuses Puntland of "fueling anarchy" I. a rather peaceful state, but Garowe is yet to issue a statement with regard to the latest accusations.
The breakaway region seized Sool and Sanag regions from Puntland in 2007 and since then, border disputes have been synonymous with local leadership. While Somaliland was colonized by the British, Somalia was under the Italians but the two sides merged in 1960 to form a union, which has been experiencing turmoil since 1991.