At least 20 people have been reportedly killed in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland in clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces over several days.
For more than a week police and the military have been battling the protesters in Laascaanood, a town in Somaliland’s east which is disputed between Somaliland and neighboring Puntland, one of Somalia’s semi-autonomous regions.
Mohamed Farah, a doctor at Laascaanood Hospital, a public facility in Laascaanood, said at least 20 people had been killed and dozens injured. He said he had seen the bodies of victims brought into the facility.
Protesters are demanding that Somaliland cede control of the town to Puntland and also accuse security forces of failing to end insecurity in the town.
“Somaliland forcefully occupied Laascaanood and failed to secure it. We are demanding that they leave,” Adaan Jaamac Oogle, the spokesperson of the protesters said.
“We cannot tolerate continuing bloodshed of civilians.”
The police did not immediately respond to a call from Reuters requesting comment.
Meanwhile, Somaliland’s Minister of Information, Saleebaan Cali Koore, appealed to the protesters in a statement Saturday to stop their demonstrations and begin negotiations with the government.