- The government of the self-declared republic of Somaliland today said that it had repulsed an attack by militia of Somalia's autonomous Puntland region. At the attack on a Somaliland patrol unit of its frontline army, no casualties were reported on Somaliland side, while Puntland militias' casualties were reported to include one dead and two wounded.
In a telephone interview with 'Awdalnews Network', Somaliland's Interior Minister Ismail Adam Osman described the attack as a planned attempt by Puntland leader Abdillahi Yusuf to create a war situation in the area as an "obvious cover-up" for his failure to secure support for his quest for Somalia's Presidency at the ongoing talks of Somali warring factions in Nairobi.
The Somaliland Minister said "Majeerteenia" (Puntland) forces attacked a small patrol unit of the Somaliland army at Adhi Addeeye village, 18-20 kilometres from Las Anod, the regional capital of the drought-struck Sool region.
Parts of the Sool region are disputed between Somaliland and Puntland. While Somaliland refers to the internationally recognised pre-1960 border between British Somaliland and Italian Somalia, the Puntland leader refers to clan loyalties between him and the Sool population. The Sool region currently is suffering from a grave drought, threatening to develop into a famine.
Regarding the military attack, Minister Osman told 'Awdalnews' that reinforcements had "immediately" been sent from Somaliland garrison stationed between Yagoori and Adhi Adeeye and "Majeerteenia militias" were routed and pushed towards Boholaha Xargagan, less then 15 kilometres from Las Anod.
Mr Osman further said that there were no casualties among Somaliland forces, while the Puntland militias suffered one dead, two wounded, one arrested and one "technical" battlewagon destroyed and another damaged.
Describing the situation as tense, Minister Osman said that he expected Puntland militias to attack again. "But if they do they should know that Somaliland forces will not stop until they reach the internationally recognised borders of our country."
Reiterating Somaliland's firm position of avoiding any military conflicts and war with neighbouring countries, Mr Osman added that "the whole world knows" that Somaliland had the military might and the will to retake its territory from "Majeerteenia" but had reined in its forces for one year to give a chance to peace and to avoid bloodshed.
- But, now we tell the African countries and the international community that we have been attacked and we are ready to defeat the enemy and secure our borders, the Somaliland Minister said. "It is our right and duty to safeguard our territorial integrity and our sovereignty," he added.
Mr Osman further added that Somaliland forces had stopped short of retaking Las Anod yesterday to avoid putting civilians in a harm's way. "Abdillahi Yusuf cannot claim parts of another country just because he shares blood ties with some of the citizens. Somaliland has internationally recognised borders and every country in the world has a right to defend its borders," he said, reiterating that the people of Las Anod were citizens of Somaliland who were loyal to their country and its sovereignty.
Somaliland, which unilaterally reclaimed its independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, but not recognised by anyone, was locked in a territorial dispute with Puntland over the east of Sanaag and most of the Sool regions which are home to sub-clans which together with the Majeerteen of Puntland belong to the Darod Harti clan.
Somaliland, however, insists on its "legitimate right" to safeguard its colonial and international recognised borders, which included the eastern Sanaag and the whole of the Sool region.
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