LAS ANOD — Sparring between Somaliland troops and a clan militia exploded into all-out war on early hours of Sunday with small arms and heavy artillery used on both sides in Buhoodle district.

According to an army spokesman in the capital, around 5:30 on Sunday the Somaliland army came under heavy attack from militants loyal to the SSC group, abbreviation for Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions. Mr Hassan Abdul Yusuf condemned the attacks and added his forces have dealt with the group appropriately and dispersed them while taking 20 men hostage.

“The army captured 20 militants including two sons of Colonel Ahmed Mohamed ‘Dalba’, who last week deserted from the forces,” he told media in Hargeisa. “The army hit the militants hard, we have captured two battle wagons and inflicted heavy casualties on them,” he continued. One of the battle wagon is said to belong to Col. Dalba, who fled with 30 troops and three vehicles.

He added the army was just in the outskirts of Buhodle. He praised the army and urged them to defend the region against any foreign and internal threat.

In the latest reports, the Somaliland forces lost two soldiers and three more were injured.

On the SSC militia side, at least 6 were killed and more than ten wounded.

The war began in the village of Sool Joogto but the army pushed the militia back and are closing on their base. Residents in near by villages began to flee for safty.

Somaliland forces during a graduation ceremony

This is the second such confortations in just two weeks between the armed forces and the clan militia that wants to destabilize Somaliland in order to create a safe heaven for Somalia’s radical groups who all share a common ‘one Somalia-one religion’ vision. Somaliland has accused the Somali semi-autonomous region of Puntland for arming the militant (also see Fighting erupts in Kalshale between troops and clan militia).

The group is trying to exploit clan rivalry in the region. Just two months ago two local clans fought over water-points in the Kalshaal, not far from today’s hot-spot, also in Buhoodle district. Now the group is trying to take advantage of this issue but the Somaliland authority refused them any interference in Somaliland’s affairs.

Businesses in the town of Buhoodle, the militant’s base, are said to have suspended trade and closed their shops.

The Interior Minister, Dr Abdi Gabose this week said the water-reservoirs that the two clans had been fighting over had been buried and disabled since the two can not share it together. Dr Gabose also said the army will refrain from using force but will only defend it self. He said the militia group were using civilians as human shield.

Somalilandpress | 19 Feb 2011