Somali Magazine – In a recent development, the autonomous region of Somaliland and the SSC-Khaatumo militia, allied to the federal government in Mogadishu, have been battling for control of Las Anod since February.
Las Anod, the capital of the Sool region, has long been a contentious city due to its strategic location. It lies on the disputed border between Somaliland and Puntland, two autonomous regions in northern Somalia that have been vying for control of the area.
The conflict escalated in February when the SSC-Khaatumo militia launched an offensive to retake the city from Somaliland’s forces. The fighting has resulted in numerous casualties and has displaced thousands of residents.
The international community has called for a ceasefire and urged both sides to engage in dialogue to resolve the dispute peacefully. However, the situation remains volatile, with both sides showing no signs of backing down.
The battle for Las Anod is a stark reminder of the complex political landscape in Somalia. As the conflict continues, the people of Las Anod are caught in the crossfire, their lives disrupted by a battle for control that shows no signs of ending soon.
The 2023 Las Anod conflict is an ongoing armed conflict between the Somaliland National Army and the SSC-Khatumo forces of the Dhulbahante in Las Anod, the capital of the Sool region. Fighting erupted on February 6 after Somaliland security forces held a violent crackdown on civil protests.
On February 8, the supreme Garad of Dhulbahante, Garad Jama Garad Ali, declared an intent to secede and reunite with the Federal Government of Somalia. The conflict has killed over 300 people and displaced 153,000–203,000 refugees. Citizens have been displaced en-masse externally to Buuhodle and the Ethiopian border, internally to SSC-Khaatumo territories of Taleh, Hudun, Buuhodle, or to Puntland cities – most commonly Garowe, Galkacyo and Burtinle.
On March 16, Somaliland troops were reported to be shelling civilians from the surrounding area. In late April, Amnesty International released a report, determining that Somaliland security forces’ indiscriminate shelling of Las Anod had damaged schools, mosques, and hospitals, and killed and injured civilians.
Las Anod had been controlled by Somaliland since 2007, Since the local Puntland militia switched loyalties. The clan militias supporting Somaliland were loyal to Ahmed Abdi Habsade, a Puntland minister who defected to Somaliland and then returned to Puntland. In particular, the security situation reported to have severely declined under Somaliland’s control. The Raad Peace Research Institute in Mogadishu reported that “120 prominent clan and community leaders were assassinated” between 2007 and 2022 in the city proper.
In December 2022, civil demonstration and unrest began to spread northwest across the Sool region, from Taleh to Kalabaydh, Hudun, Boocame and Tukaraq, driven by perceived political marginalization in Somaliland.