Fighting Rages in Las Anod, Somalia

Abdirahim Ali Ismail, (center) mayor of Las Anod, addressing the media Wednesday, accused Somaliland troops of indiscriminately shelling the town.

Fighting in Las Anod has entered its third day between Somaliland forces and local clan fighters.

The mayor of Las Anod, Abdirahim Ali Ismail, accused Somaliland forces of indiscriminately shelling the town, resulting in civilian casualties.

“We confirm that the town of Las Anod is being shelled for the third day. They are shelling medical centers, mosques, gas stations, and civilian homes,” Ismail said.

Ismail the main hospital was hit by several mortars on Tuesday, killing a pregnant woman.The mayor demanded that Somaliland withdraw its troops from the area.

Local media reports that at least 50 people were killed and over 100 injured.

The UN Human Rights is demanding an investigation into the deaths of civilians in Las Anod.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk said that 20 people were killed and 119 others were injured.

The commissioner expressed concern about new clashes and claims of new casualties.

“These potentially unlawful killings come just a month after at least 20,000 people were displaced by clashes in Las Anod, and could contribute to further displacement, compounding the already fragile humanitarian situation in the region,” Turk said.

Somalia’s international partners, in a statement Tuesday, expressed concern about the violence in Las Anod and called for an immediate end to the violence and for the warring factions to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Government representatives and army chiefs from the breakaway region of Somaliland launched an attack on the town where clan elders from the Dhulbahante clan have been debating the future of the Sanaag and Sool regions for weeks.

On Monday, the clan elders of the two regions agreed to form their own regional state separate from Somaliland.

The federal government of Somalia called for an end to the conflict and supported the declaration by clan elders seeking a regional state.

The town has been tense since late December following the assassination of a popular local youth and politician. This killing sparked weeks of protests demanding that Somaliland forces leave their territory.