The director of a hospital in a contentious city in Somaliland claims that over the course of more than two months of fighting between anti-government fighters and Somaliland security forces following local elders’ declarations of their desire to reunite with Somalia, at least 145 people have been killed.
Around 100,000 households have fled the city of Las-Anod since late December, according to Abdimajid Sugulle of the public hospital in Las-Anod, who spoke to The Associated Press on Saturday. He claimed that most citizens have left.
The hospital’s laboratory, blood bank, and patient ward were allegedly destroyed by mortar bombardment by Somaliland forces, according to the director. “Civilian households and medical institutions have been randomly shelled by Somaliland soldiers stationed outside the town. No day goes by without casualties and shelling, he said over the phone to the AP.
The government of Somaliland has claimed it is “continually committed” to the cease-fire it announced on February 10. The defense ministry of Somaliland has denied shelling the hospital. The United Nations and foreign allies issued a warning last month, saying that the deliberate shelling of civilians was intolerable and had to stop.
Three decades ago, Somaliland broke away from Somalia and is now vying for worldwide independence. Las-Anod has been a point of contention between Somaliland and the Somali state of Puntland for many years, but Somaliland has been in charge of the eastern metropolis.
Over 450 noncombatants, including medical personnel, were injured as a result of the violence in Las-Anod between December 28 and February 28, according to the U.N. mission in Somalia and the U.N. human rights office. The U.N. has demanded respect for medical personnel and unrestricted access for aid organizations.
An anonymous gunman killed a well-liked young politician from Somaliland’s opposition party as he was leaving a mosque, sparking the confrontation in Las-Anod. Protests against Somaliland’s leaders and security forces then broke out in the city.
The government of Somaliland has attributed the unrest to fighters with “anti-peace groups and terrorism” and said that certain attacks were supported by the al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida.