A new bomb explosion killed one and injured five in Somalia’s self-declared independent republic of Somaliland Jan. 28. Among those injured in the blast was the governor of Sool region, Askar Farah Hussein, who was admitted to a hospital in the town of Las-anod. Commenting on the bombings that have hit the region since last October, Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin told reporters: “I have heard the opposition accusing the government of being behind the bombs; this is unfortunate, the government is investigating, but we need to know that the enemy wants [to stage] more attacks against Somaliland…”
The latest incident brings to five the bombings since October 2009 in Las-anod, capital of a region in contention between Somaliland and the neighboring autonomous enclave of Puntland. Las-anod is part of Sool and Sanag region, to which the governments of Somaliland and Puntland both lay claim.
According : “The area remains largely unadministered by both Puntland and Somaliland,” said EJ Hogendoorn, the International Crisis Group‘s Horn of Africa Project director, adding that the region is inhabited mainly by the Dhulbahante clan, which has family ties to the ruling Harti clan in Puntland.
“The Sool and Sanag region is disputed by both Puntland and Somaliland for several reasons; the Dhulbahante are unhappy with both Puntland and Somaliland, and Islamist radicals have taken advantage of this to try to cause instability in the area,” Hogendoorn said. “Moreover, it is likely that there are significant oil deposits in Sool and Sanag, so both governments lay claim to the region.”
Hogendoorn said it appears the violence is inspired by Islamist elements among the Dhulbahante that are sympathetic to al-Shabab, the main insurgent group that has been waging war against the government in Somalia.
“The interest of these Islamist elements is to foment instability. What is clear is that they have links with al-Shabab in south and central Somalia,” he said. “There is a similar dynamic going in Puntland, where the Islamist radicals have also targeted government officials in the past.”
Somaliand police commissioner Mohamed Saqadhi Dubad told IRIN that 23 arrests had been made in relation to the wave of attacks and that investigations are ongoing. On Jan. 26, Dubad said, a remote-controlled package bomb killed two Somaliland soldiers. On Jan. 14, unknown armed men shot dead the Las-anod police commissioner minutes after he left a mosque. In late October, an army commander and another official were killed following a bomb explosion.
“We consider the suspects [to be] coming from our enemy who don’t like our stability; of course they are external enemies,” Dubad said, declining to give any names. (IRIN, Jan. 29)
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