Hundreds flee Somaliland fighting

Hundreds of families in Somalia’s self-declared republic of Somaliland have fled inter-clan fighting in the mid-west Satiile area in Gabiley region, local officials report. The fighting, the second flare-up in three months, started on 7 April after a group of men drove into Satiile settlement area and shot dead a local farmer and wounded his brother.

Ahmed-Bare Sa’id Kibar, a village elder in Satiile, said at least 200 families had fled from Xar-Makahiil, Dacawalay, Laaca, Maslayaha, Jaldhaabta and Satiile farmland settlements to Adado Dhaadheeray, Kalabaid. Some of the families had fled to Gabiley, the region’s capital, he added.

Elabe Mohamoud Hufane, the deputy mayor of Dilla District in Awdal region, said: “We received reports mid-morning yesterday that a man, identified as Ahmed Yasin Kule, had been shot dead on his farm while his brother survived and managed to flee. “We went there to calm the situation with the district police; we were told the men who shot dead Ahmed Yasin were from Elberdale area in the north, where a land-based conflict had started some time ago.”

In late February, two men were shot dead following inter-clan fighting between the Reer Hared of Gabiley region and the Reer Nour of Awdal region. The conflict dates back to 1998 when the clans confronted each other over the war between the Somali National Movement (Somaliland’s liberation organization) and the army, which was loyal to the late Mohamed Siyad Barre, then Somali president. At the time, the Reer Nour supported Barre while Reer Hared supported the liberation movement. Over the past two decades, attempts to reconcile the two were made and a ceasefire agreed but the issue has since transformed into a land conflict, focusing on a farming development project founded by Sheikh Muhumed Rage in the late 1950s.

After the February clashes, a committee from Somaliland’s upper house of parliament, the Guurti, toured the region. The committee was also in the area when the latest clashes erupted, according to Hufane. “We met several dozen families fleeing to Dilla District, and we spoke to them urging them not to flee but they went ahead saying they feared for their security,” Hufane said. (IRIN, April 8)

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  1. Repression in Somaliland
    A clan elder was arrested April 14 in Somalia’s breakaway republic of Somaliland after he attended an opposition rally the day earlier, Puntland’s Radio Garowe reports. Saleban Boqor Saleban Hassan was detained by Somaliland police in Hargeisa, with witnesses saying he demanded the police to show him a warrant. He was standing in front of Hotel Imperial in Hargeisa when police units arrested him without a warrant, witnesses said. Crowds gathered as the traditional elder was ushered into a police vehicle and transported to Hargeisa’s police headquarters.

    The previous day, Saleban had addressed hundreds of people who came out in support of Kulmiye opposition party leader Ahmed Silanyo’s refusal to recognize the term extension of Somaliland’s President Dahir Riyale. He harshly criticized two government officials, Finance Minister Awil Ali Du’ale and Public Works Minister Said Sulub, who he accused of “inciting old clan hostilities.”

    Silanyo, Somaliland’s opposition leader, has demanded that President Riyale leave office after failing to hold presidential elections on time. Somaliland’s upper house of parliament, the House of Guurti, voted to give Riyale’s administration a six-month extension in addition to a one-year extension Riyale received in 2008—angering opposition parties Kulmiye and UCID.

    “I thank you for coming out to express your opposition to Riyale’s term extension,” Silanyo told supporters at the April 13 rally, as police units blocked off roads near the Kulmiye party headquarters in Hargeisa. He openly accused the Riyale government of “robbing the public” and “destroying the democracy” in Somaliland.

    “We have the constitutional right to stage peaceful protests. We do not fire bullets, we do not throw stones, but they [police] fired bullets at us,” Silanyo said, referring to Kulmiye’s first public demonstration in Hargeisa the previous week that ended abruptly after security forces fired into the crowd. (Radio Garowe, April 15)