The Somaliland government released the following statement accusing Al-Shabaab of leads attacks against the Republic of Somaliland.
Press statement by Somaliland Presidency
On 26th March Somaliland National Army positions at their camp in Goja-cadde, outside the town of Las Anod in the Sool region, came under sustained and heavy attack by three groups of invading forces operating from bases in Bosaso, Galkayo, Qardho, and Garowe in Puntland and from an Al-Shabaab base at Buhodleh on the border with Ethiopia. The attackers were comprised of fighters from the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, members of the Puntland Security Forces and Puntland Presidential Guard, and former soldiers from Somalia’s Armed Forces, all of whom have been photographed and filmed fighting at locations inside Somaliland. Once again this was an unprovoked attack launched in contravention of the unilateral ceasefire declared by Somaliland on 10 February 2023.
The Somaliland National Army offered a robust and successful defense and inflicted casualties on terrorists. However, as shown in this drone footage https://youtu.be/QDjK1ze06WE the Somaliland Army refrained from shooting at hundreds of defeated militia and allowed them to run away on foot. As on previous occasions, to minimize risk to the lives of civilians, the Somaliland National Army resisted attempts by the attackers to draw it into civilian inhabited areas and no civilian casualties have been reported by the Somaliland authorities.
The latest incident marks an escalation in the ongoing conflict being waged inside Somaliland by Al-Shabaab terrorists with support from a weak coalition of other external anti-Somaliland elements. The assault is a continuation of the long-term strategy being pursued by Al-Shabaab to destroy democracy and peace in Somaliland, disrupt operations and international shipping at the port of Berbera, and infiltrate and destabilize the neighboring countries of Ethiopia and Djibouti with the ambition of bringing insecurity to the entire region.
As was the case when Al-Shabaab rose to prominence in Mogadishu, their policy for gaining control of Las Anod and the Sool region has been to first disrupt the area with a series of planned assassinations targeting politicians, local government and military officials, intelligence officers, judges, businessmen who refused to pay Al-Shabaab taxes, journalists, and supporters of Somaliland. At the same time, Al-Shabaab has successfully exploited local grievances with the government of Somaliland. Once these objectives were achieved, they have then commenced to assume control of the situation and install their own system of governance. Evidence of Al-Shabaab having already taken control of Las Anod is emerging with the banning of the use of qat and the destruction of all outlets used for its sale. They have also begun forcing the inhabitants to pray and restricting the behavior of women.
Over the past months and years, further evidence of the scale of the threat posed to the region by Al-Shabaab has emerged. In addition to frequent public appearances by their leader, Abdi Madobe, who as recently as on the 26th of March was filmed participating in fighting against Somaliland, and who in the past has been filmed proclaiming Jihad and death to the people of Somaliland and their Western allies, several other well-known Al-Shabaab leaders have been identified as being active in Sool region. There have also been numerous arrests made by Somaliland security forces of Al-Shabaab members operating inside Somaliland. A number of suspects are awaiting trial in Somaliland, but many more have been tried and convicted and are serving sentences for acts of terrorism, including the targeted assassinations in Las Anod which preceded the current conflict.
Of equal concern is the involvement of former high-ranking officers and officials who until recently served in the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). The most conspicuous of these are General Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijaar, a former General of the FGS police force, and General Abdihamiid Mahamoud Dirir, a former admiral of the FGS navy who towards the end of last year was dismissed from his position. Both men have been seen operating in Las Anod commanding soldiers who were previously members of FGS army units that were created under the Farmajo government and trained by the Turks and the USA to become an elite force designed to tackle Al-Shabaab. The government of Hassan Sheikh has described them as deserters. Also present is Abdullahi Ali Hersi, a second deputy of the upper house of FGS, who has been pictured recently on social media participating in activities inside Las Anod, and Abdillahi Bidhan Warsame, who is currently a member of parliament in the FGS. Evidence of these men acting alongside members of Al-Shabaab and their involvement in the illegal invasion of Somaliland has been handed to the United Nations Security Council.
The international community has long fought to eliminate Al-Shabaab. However, it is notable that during the campaign to eradicate them all the considerable resources made available for this purpose have been received by the Federal Government of Somalia and, to a lesser extent, the administration in Puntland. It should also be noted that elements of the PSF forces now fighting alongside Al-Shabaab in Sool were originally trained and equipped by the USA to fight against Al-Shabaab. No support from the international community for the prevention of terrorism has ever been extended to Somaliland. Yet it remains the case that, since 2008, with the sole assistance of Ethiopia, the government of Somaliland has so far succeeded in holding Al-Shabaab at bay.
Now, as the conflict escalates and the forces ranged against Somaliland increase, the situation is becoming more serious, not just for Somaliland, but for the security and stability of the wider region. In response to this escalation in the quantity and ferocity of the attacks being waged against it, on the 27th of March, the Somaliland Army announced that it will no longer pursue a purely defensive stance against the invasion of its territory. Henceforth Somaliland will actively repel hostile forces from its territories, seek to defend the democracy which it has upheld for the past thirty-two years, and act to reinstate the rule of law throughout its lands.
The government of Somaliland therefore urgently calls upon the international community not to fall for the sophisticated web of lies and propaganda being disseminated by those opposed to Somaliland, but to understand and acknowledge the true severity of the situation in Sool. The international community must then act in support of Somaliland to combat the extreme threat that Al-Shabaab terrorism poses, not just to the democracy and prosperity of the Republic of Somaliland, but to its allies and neighbors in Ethiopia and Djibouti, and the civilian population caught up in this unprovoked and tragic conflict.
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