Hargysa(Mogadishu24)-At least 20 people died in a clash that occurred on Friday between the Police forces of the breakaway republic of Somaliland and armed Guerrilla near the Ga’an-Libah mountainous area, near Hargeisa city, and subsequent public protests.

Somaliland Minister of Internal Affairs, Mohamed Kahin Ahmed, and Police Commissioner Mohamed Aden Saqidhi confirmed that 10 soldiers were killed and 17 others were injured in the clash. They stated that the police forces traveling to Go’da yar and Go’da weyn were ambushed by the anti-government armed rebels.

“We confirm that nine officers were killed and 17 others injured in the attack; the Policemen were not prepared for the fight and did not know anything about the enemy in the region,” the Police Commissioner said.

However, the armed Guerrilla claimed that the Police forces attacked them and in defence they killed 25 police officers and injured two others.

This clash has caused alarm and led to public protests, which have also resulted in the loss of civilian lives as the police fired live bullets at protestors in Hargeisa, Burao, and Erigavo.

Opposition leaders have accused the government of resorting to conflicts rather than seeking peaceful solutions. Abdirahman Irro, an opposition presidential candidate,stated that he would prefer to withdraw from the presidential race than witness the bloodshed of innocent civilians.

Abdirizack Irro stated, “The peaceful co-existence among the people of Somaliland is more important than power. I will not exchange power for the bloodshed of my people. I would rather cease my pursuit of power than experience the bloodshed of my beloved people. Therefore, I implore the disagreements and conflicts between the government and the armed men in the mountainous area of Ga’an-Libah to be resolved through peaceful dialogue. The peace and security of this country are everyone’s responsibility, and the government should spearhead this mission.”

The mayor of Burao, Abdirizack Hiro, asserted that the public engaged in offensive demonstrations, destroyed government facilities, and attacked police cells, which compelled the police officers to use live bullets.

“The protestors attacked leaders, including myself and the governor. They engaged in violent protests and also targeted the police cells. The police were compelled to use live bullets to disperse the protestors who had crossed the limits,” said Abdirizack Hiro, the mayor of Burao town.

Politicians, community leaders, and religious scholars have called on the government to engage the armed Guerrilla in peaceful dialogue and negotiations. They have urged the government to withdraw an announcement that orders the security forces to engage in a war against the armed Guerrilla in the mountains of Ga’an-Libah.

“We are calling for peace and negotiations between the government and those armed men in Ga’an-Libah mountains. Conflicts will not bring solutions. If the government does not retract its call for war against these people and does not engage in peaceful dialogue, then there will be no solution. We therefore urge the government to withdraw its announcement and advocate for peace,” Mohamud Osman, one of the community leaders, stated.

Despite these tensions in the country, the Speaker of the Somaliland Parliament introduced an energy-related agenda during a parliamentary session on Saturday. However, this move met with strong dissatisfaction from parliamentarians who criticized the Parliament’s competence to discuss non-relevant issues in the midst of a devastating war in the country. 

The energy agenda was set aside, and a committee comprised of the chairpersons of six different parliamentary committees, along with additional members of parliament, will discuss the conflict-related matters over two days and submit the findings to the parliament during the Tuesday session.

These anti-government armed groups emerged due to President Muse Bihi’s term extension and prolonged election delays. The situation has exacerbated existing conflicts in Las’anod since February 6, 2023, resulting in Deaths, destruction of healthcare facilities,  schools, and civilian displacements.

The President’s use of military measures and declaration of war against the armed rebels, instead of pursuing peaceful negotiations, has escalated tensions and caused destruction.

The breakaway republic of Somaliland, once relatively stable and peaceful, appears to be descending into chaos due to President Bihi’s reluctance to extend his term, further delaying elections.

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