SOMALILAND: Ethiopian troops clash with local militia
HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — At least thirteen people were killed and over thirty wounded when Ethiopian troops based in the town of Buhodle clashed with armed tribal militia.
Reports reaching us from the disputed town suggested that at least ten Somalis were killed and three Ethiopian soldiers when violence broke out yesterday afternoon in the town. According to the head of Buhodle hospital, Mr Ali Ukun at least 33 were wounded in the fight consisting of minor and serious injuries.
It is unclear how the war started but local media reported that last night the local militia fired a number of mobile rocket launchers as planned military exercise. They added they would fire more in the nights ahead and it is certain it has drawn the attention of the Ethiopian troops. However another reports suggest after Ethiopian troops detained commercial trucks angry militia attacked the Ethiopian check-points killing three soldiers.
At least 100 trucks from Ethiopian army are stationed in the western side of the town [Somaliland-Ethiopia border] for the past seven days. The Ethiopians have been inspecting trucks in and out of the town and according to unconfirmed reports have seized at least 40 trucks. However, those trucks traveling in and between Buhodle and Somaliland’s second city Burao were granted entry, only trucks traveling from Puntland to and from Buhodle were inspected and obtained.
Somaliland troops who were also stationed in the city have since moved to near by towns including Widwid and Bali-ade in search of an armed militia with at least 600 members. Somaliland and Ethiopia are worried the militia might spoil the election process in both countries and might be used as proxy by Somalia’s Islamist groups and Eritrea. Both states are opposed to the militia who call themselves Northern Somalia Unionist Movement (NSUM), who want to see the region being part of Greater Somalia which also includes Ethiopia’s Somali state.
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Buhodle is part of the disputed Sool region between Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland but neither regime has full control of it. Somaliland maintains the region falls within the 1960 pre-union borders while Puntland’s argument is based on tribal bases, the inhabitants of the town also belong to Puntland’s Darod family.
Somaliland has no so far commented but according to the Defense Minister, Mr. Suleyman Warsame Guled, troops from Somaliland and Ethiopia would be working along side each others to maintain the security of the region during the election periods.
Somaliland has close ties with Ethiopia and the two often share intelligence information and Somaliland forces often receive military training in Ethiopia.
Landlocked Ethiopia feels the stability is crucial to it’s own security since the two countries have long border, Ethiopia depends heavily on the port of Berbera for cargo, food aid and soon telecommunication when the EASSY optic fiber arrives. Ethiopia has made it clear it would support Somaliland by all means in early March delivered thousands of small arms to Somaliland army in Sool.
International diplomats based in Addis Ababa have also voiced their concern about Somaliland’s stability inciting the region is “vital to the world trading community’s control of the Red Sea and adjacent maritime region.” They add the port of Berbera will become a key node in the biggest African internet infrastructure that would link the African East Coast with the high-speed global systems.
Somalilandpress | Friday, May 21, 2010