The president of Somaliland, a separatist region in Somalia, has vowed revenge against a local militia that seized a significant military base belonging to the Somaliland army.
The breakaway region has been plagued by months of conflict between Somaliland troops and a clan militia challenging the authority of the self-proclaimed republic, which declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but remains unrecognized internationally.
On Friday, the SSC militia announced that it had captured the Goojacade base in the Sool region, which includes the city of Las Anod.
Las Anod is a disputed territory claimed by both Somaliland and the neighboring autonomous region of Puntland. President Muse Bihi Abdi addressed the media in the capital city of Hargeisa on Saturday, expressing determination to avenge the attack.
He assured the public that despite losses suffered by the army, it remains intact and capable of retaliation. He urged the people not to fear further escalation and assured them that the situation would be brought under control.
Residents of Las Anod reported a relatively calm situation on Saturday, although there was a visible military mobilization in the area.
Abdilatif Adan, a resident of Las Anod, stated that people are tense and uncertain about what the future holds. The recent months of conflict have left the population on edge, with the February fighting resulting in hundreds of deaths.
The escalating violence has also taken a toll on essential services, with medical charity Doctors Without Borders announcing in July that it had to suspend operations at Las Anod’s general hospital due to recurrent attacks on medical facilities and the extreme level of violence.
The humanitarian impact of the conflict has been significant, with the UN estimating in February that over 185,000 people had been displaced as a result of the violence.
The ongoing instability and lack of recognition have hindered the development of Somaliland, a region with a population of 4.5 million. While Somaliland operates as a self-governing entity, printing its own currency, issuing passports, and holding elections, its quest for international recognition as an independent state has been unsuccessful.
This lack of recognition has left Somaliland economically disadvantaged and isolated, although it has managed to maintain relative stability compared to the ongoing Islamist insurgency and civil war in Somalia.