International partners appeal for restraint as fighting escalates in northern Somalia

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International partners have strongly condemned the escalation of conflict between the Somali army and local fighters in Somaliland’s Las Anod town in northern Somalia.

The partners, including the African Union, the United Nations and the European Union, urged all sides to agree to an immediate and unconditional cease-fire. “We call for an end to the mobilization of fighters and to the provision of supplies and armaments,” they said in a joint statement issued in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Sunday evening.

The partners said they were deeply concerned about reports of large numbers of detainees and expect those involved to abide by human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The conflict between the Somaliland army and fighters loyal to SSC-Khatumo escalated last week with the local fighters claiming to have seized the Gojacade base on the outskirts of Las Anod town.

The fighting in Las Anod which has displaced thousands of people has been going on since Feb. 6 after local clan elders issued a declaration stating that they are no longer part of Somaliland and that Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions are now governed by the government of Somalia.

Both sides are reportedly using heavy artillery and machine guns, causing serious damage, including to health facilities in the area.

The international partners reiterated the importance of ensuring unhindered humanitarian access and delivery of assistance to those in need.

“We urge all parties to refrain from divisive rhetoric. All grievances and tensions should be resolved peacefully and through dialogue,” the partners said.