At least 20 people have been killed in days of clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in segregated areas of Somaliland, according to a public hospital doctor.
For more than a week, police and the military have fought protesters in the eastern Somaliland town of Laascaanood which is contested between Somaliland and neighbouring Puntland, one of Somalia’s semi-autonomous regions.
Protesters demand that Somaliland hand over control of the city to Puntland. They also accuse security forces of not ending security in the city.
“Somaliland was occupied by Laascaanood forces and we were unable to secure it. We demand that they (the Somaliland residents) leave,” the spokesman for the protesters, Adaan Jaamac Oogle, told Reuters.
“Continued bloodshed against civilians cannot be tolerated,” he added.
A senior Somali military commander, Mahad Ambaashe Elmi, did not respond to a Reuters request for comment
Somaliland’s Minister of Information, Salebaan Ali Koore, issued a statement on Saturday calling on protesters to stop the demonstrations and start negotiations with the government.
Somaliland separated from Somalia in 1991, but its independence was never widely recognized internationally. The region was mostly peaceful while Somalia grappled with her 30-year civil war.