The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) carried out its first visit to over 300 detainees in Las Anod on Thursday, August 31. The ICRC also says 43 bodies have been collected in the past week from the frontlines of the latest fighting in the capital city of Sool, in Somaliland.

The statement did not identify the dead or those to blame.

Somaliland security forces have been fighting clan militias aided by Al-Shabaab terrorists and forces from the Somali regional government of Puntland, who wish to be part of Somalia, whose Puntland state for years has disputed Las Anod with Somaliland.


Following the catastrophic military withdrawal by Somaliland’s armed forces from their bases in Las Anod, a gruesome picture of treatment has emerged from Las Anod against captured Somaliland military prisoners of war. Images shared on social media show jubilant crowds dancing and mistreating dead soldiers. Other images show a barbaric level of violence being perpetrated by Las Anod militias against Somaliland’s military POWS.

Hundreds of people have been captured on both sides in the latest fighting, and the ICRC said it had managed to make its first visit to 300 held by the militias. Four wounded detainees were taken to a hospital, it said. ICRC staff had previously visited captured militia forces in the Somaliland capital.

“It is crucial that each detainee, from either side, is treated in accordance with international humanitarian law. This means that every detained person must have access to food and water and must never be subject to any form of ill-treatment,” said Pascal Cuttat, the head of the ICRC delegation in Somalia.

To help improve the material conditions of detention, ICRC teams also delivered blankets and mattresses to the places of detention in Las Anod.

Somaliland’s government on Thursday condemned what it alleged were images circulating of mistreatment of its captured soldiers and reminded combatants of the Geneva Convention guidelines, as well as Islamic custom, for the treatment of prisoners.

In a statement Friday, the ICRC said a further 110 wounded people have been taken to hospitals in the past week by the Somali Red Crescent Society amid clashes that have continued for months in and around Las-Anod.

Somaliland’s defense ministry earlier this year denied that the army had shelled the main hospital in Las-Anod.

Meanwhile, Social media users from Somaliland, in particular those on X or Twitter, criticized the ICRC’s report on the plight of the country’s POWs in Las Anod. They said the ICRC concealed the POWs’ cruel treatment.

“Did they show what they did to these other POWs who were alive when they were captured? The ICRC is being used by a ruthless terrorist organization to whitewash their war crimes and total disregard for all articles of the Geneva Rules of Warfare. You are complicit,” tweeted HAGGOOGANE.

#The ICRC has been hired to cover up these ISIS-style executions of POWs. So far, they are doing a fantastic job given. They have already seen 300 POWs in just one hour since they arrived in Las Anod. Also, they didn’t visit wounded soldiers either,” said HAGGOOGANE in another tweet.

The dispute over Sool in Somaliland provided a potential risk of violent extremist organization infiltration of the area.

While there are legitimate local grievances driving the fighting in Las Anod, the conflict will almost certainly be exploited by al-Shabaab. The government of Somaliland has already warned that al-Shabaab operatives have infiltrated some of the militias fighting to control Las Anod.

Al-Shabaab and the Islamic State in Somalia (ISS) are both well-established in Puntland. Al-Shabaab’s intelligence wing, the Amniyat, has, for years, expertly assessed and exploited clan rivalries for its own benefit.

The longer and more divisive the dispute between Somaliland and Puntland, the more groups outside the system may be in a position to take advantage. These include al-Shabaab and the Islamic State in Somalia, who maintain a presence in the mountainous areas to the east and west of Bosasso in Puntland, respectively.

Social Media reaction


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.