LAS ANOD — Heavy fighting between Somaliland troops and a tribal militia broke out early Wednesday morning in the village of Sool-Joogto in Buhoodle region, near the Ethiopian border.
The battle erupted after tribal militia loyal to Somalia’s former Prime Minister, Ali Khalif Galayr, backed by Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel members launched pre-dawn assault on Somaliland military base in the outskirts of Buhoodle town.
Eyewitnesses said the fighting was the heaviest yet in the region and many residents were fleeing from Buhoodle town and the surrounding villages.
The exact number of people injured or killed in the fresh battle is not yet known however Somaliland’s minister of defense Ahmed Hajji Ali Adami said the army killed 20 militants, captured 40 fighters and confiscated 4 battle-wagons. He noted that the Somaliland forces lost at least six soldiers and over ten sustained various injuries.
Eyewitness accounts in the area said that Somaliland army captured as many as 120 fighters from the tribal militia and added 14 were wounded from Somaliland troops.
The latest clash comes day after Ethiopia expelled Ali Khalif Galayr from Addis Ababa where he fled to two weeks ago. It was reported that Ethiopian police stormed a hotel in the Ethiopian capital where Ali Khalif was staying with some of his senior supporters. They added he was forced out of Ethiopia and its not clear where he departed to.
The expulsion follows after President Silanyo met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in which he forwarded his security concerns regarding Ali Khalif and his tribal militia.
PM Zenawi promised he will assist Somaliland in regards to this matter and made it clear his country would not host such group who could destabilize the entire region. President Silanyo welcomed Ethiopia’s commitment to security and reaffirmed that Somaliland was a friend.
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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2012