Clashes in Somaliland lead to deaths of nine police officers

Authorities in Somalia’s self-declared autonomous region of Somaliland confirmed that nine police officers were ambushed and fatally wounded during clashes involving security personnel and armed militia supporters of the opposition.

The assault took place on Friday within a mountainous region located approximately 95 kilometers (59 miles) from the capital of the region, Hargeisa, as stated by police commander Mohamed Adan Saqadhi.

The militiamen “ambushed around thirty members of the policeā€¦ and killed nine,” Saqadhi said, adding that 17 others were wounded.

Since 1991, Somaliland has asserted its independence from Somalia, although it has not received international recognition. Nonetheless, it is often regarded as a symbol of stability within a turbulent region.

Nevertheless, there has been a surge in political tensions in recent months.

Starting in July, clan militias have become armed in protest against the extension of President Muse Bihi Abdi’s term, which was prolonged until October 2022.

In the previous month, Somaliland’s electoral commission announced that the contested presidential election is scheduled for November 2024, following party nominations by 11 months.

The opposition has expressed apprehension about the schedule, accusing the government of delaying the electoral process.

The interior minister, Mohamed Kahin Ahmed, attributed the Friday attack to the main opposition party, Wadani, and accused its leader, Abdirahman Iro, of harboring the assailants.

Iro refuted the allegations and urged all armed civilians to disarm.

“We have already made the values of our party clear and I will say it again, we protest against a solution that is sought through the barrel of the gun and force.”

A former British protectorate, Somaliland is home to a population of 4.5 million people.

Despite independently printing currency, issuing passports, and holding autonomous elections, Somaliland’s endeavor for official statehood has not been acknowledged, rendering it economically disadvantaged and socially isolated.

In contrast to Somalia’s decades-long civil war and Islamist insurgency, the region has maintained a relatively stable environment.

President Abdi ratified the election schedule through a decree last week.

The lead-up to the postponed election was marred by incidents in August last year, during which several individuals were killed and numerous others injured when police opened fire on anti-government protesters in various towns.

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