Somalia: Renewed fighting as Bossaso ceasefire breaks down
BOSSASO, Puntland - Heavy fighting has resumed in Bossaso, the commercial capital of Puntland, just hours after the regional government declared a ceasefire, amid pressure from local and international partners, who raised concerns about the conflict.
The conflict began following a deadlock over the control of Puntland Security Forces [PSF], a key ally in the fight against terrorism that soared after president Said Abdullahi Deni sacked PSF director Mohamud Osman Diano on November 24.
Witnesses said fighting re-started late last night in the vicinity of PSF headquarters in Bossaso that caused a new displacement of residents ongoing in the city, in what could further trigger a humanitarian crisis in Somalia's northeastern Federal State.
Puntland government is blaming sacked PSF director for inciting violence in the port city, which links Puntland to the rest of the world. In a statement, Puntland's presidency accused Diano's loyalists of shelling residential areas.
"The Puntland government declares that the former PSF director is inciting violence in Bossaso by indiscriminately shelling the city with PSF arms," read the statement, which comes hours after both sides pledged to embrace ceasefire.
"The Puntland government reiterates that it is giving time to efforts to bring a peaceful end to the situation in Bossaso," the statement further read.
Puntland government has declared a ceasefire on Wednesday, a move which was welcomed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and a host of Puntland leaders led by former Presidents Abdirahman Farole and Abdiweli Gaas as well as ex-PM Omar Abdirashid Sharamarke.
On Wednesday, the US Africa Command, which has been training PSF, also warned about the violence, arguing that it could trigger a resurgence of Al-Shabaab in the country. US Africa Command hailed PSF as a tough force in counterterrorism.
Puntland security minister, Abdisamad Mohamed Galan, announced the cease-fire Wednesday, saying the decision was made after intervention from traditional elders, scholars, and business leaders who urged that the fighting be stopped.
"We are appealing to anyone working for peace that we are ready to accept any effort that is not against law, which can lead to a cease-fire," Galan told the media, just before Thursday incidents.
The Puntland government is pulling its troops from the battle zones around the PSF complex, according to the sources in order to give the ongoing peace efforts a chance to metarialize.