We have a right to defend ourselves, Somaliland says after US warning

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HARGEISA, Somalia - The breakaway region of Somaliland has vowed to defend its "territorial integrity" even after criticism from the United States over violence in Las Anod which is entering the second month without formal settlement despite efforts by Mogadishu to mediate the conflict in the northern state.

Through the Foreign Affairs department, the state accused outsiders of meddling in the conflict, noting that the principles of the ceasefire were breached despite the region withdrawing her troops from Las Anod. The conflict was reignited in the just-ending week following clashes in the outskirts of the town.

"The Republic of Somaliland has the right to defend its territorial integrity, and our Armed Forces have been doing so with restraint and professionalism," read the statement which came after criticism by the United States which expressed concerns over the escalating conflict.

Somaliland now alleges that armed groups including Al-Shabaab, Puntland Security Forces, and the Somali National Army [SNA] are involved in the Las Anod conflict. However, Puntland has repeatedly denied this claim so as did the Danab Special forces, a contingent in the Somali National Army.

Over 200 people have been killed following fighting between Somaliland security forces and the SSC-Khatumo forces who are pushing for self-determination. Several residents of Las Anod want to be administered from Mogadishu instead of Hargeisa, the regional administrative capital of Somaliland.

In a statement, the United States expressed concerns over the ongoing conflict while insisting on the withdrawal of Somaliland security forces from Las Anod. The US also supported efforts by the federal government of Somalia to mediate the conflict through traditional elders.

"We call on Somaliland to pull back its security forces as a demonstration of its commitment to these principles. We call on the militias in Lascanood to refrain from any offensive actions against Somaliland forces," read the statement. "We support the Federal Government of Somalia’s constructive engagement and deployment of a clan elders’ delegation and welcome Somaliland President Bihi’s commitment to meet with the delegation in Hargeisa"

"We also note with concern that Somaliland’s presidential elections have been delayed since November 2022, well beyond the timing outlined in Somaliland’s constitution. We call on the Somaliland authorities to set a clear timeline and complete the elections as soon as possible," the US further said.

Since yesterday, the city is under bombardment and attacks from Somaliland troops who are trying to retake the city from the local community fighters who are fighting for a separate state which is under Somalia's Federal System. 

Somaliland claimed it broke away from Somalia 30 years ago. But to date, no country recognizes it as an independent nation.

GAROWE ONLINE

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