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At least eight were killed and more than 12 people injured after heavy fighting broke out in Sool-joogto and Meygaagle near Buhodle district, between Somaliland forces and militia loyal to Khatuma state of Somalia, according to residents and officials.
Omar Jama Saleiman, a spokesman for the newly formed state of Khatumo, told Somalia Report that the fighting began at 4:00am local time on Wednesday after Khatuma forces attacked Somaliland forces based in Sool Joogto, 28km north of Buhoodle.
“We attacked them because we asked them to move out of our land but they ignored us. The fighting involved heavy shelling and we killed several of their soldiers and wounded others. We also captured three armed vehicles including six of their forces and they are in Buhodle now. We will display them to the media as soon as possible,” he said.
He added that three of their fighters were killed in the fighting and six others were injured.
“We have taken them to Galkayo and Buhoodle hospitals to receive treatment,” said Mr. Saleiman.
Yahye Ali, a resident in Burcoa district of Togdheer region of Somaliland, a break-away state of Somaliland, confirmed to Somalia Report that 12 Somaliland residents were casualties of the battle arrived in Burcoa hospital to receive treatment.
“However, no one could confirm the actual number of deaths and injuries,” he said.
Somaliland Defense Minister Ahmed Haji Ali Cadami told the local media that Khatumo militia ambushed Somaliland forces at 4:00am local time, catching Somaliland forces off guard.
“We had more casualties and several of our forces were rushed to Burcoa city hospitals. They also seized weapons and vehicles, but fortunately our forces were able to defend themselves and killed dozens of militia and reclaimed their weapons and vehicle. They also captured several fighters of the Khatuma militia,” he reported.
He added that the Somaliland government was displeased with the incident since they have been seeking peace in the area by negotiating with locals on how to reconcile with the militia. However, the militias were creating insecurity to aggravate Somaliland’s attempts to end the conflict, as expressed in President Ahmed Siilaanyo’s statement to the press.
Conflict between Somaliland and the militias loyal to Khatumo has increased since the latter’s declaration of regional autonomy with Somaliland attacking Khatumo's militia in late January.
Meanwhile, another fight broke out between Somaliland and Khatumo state at Gambare near Tukaraq village east of Lascanod District. Detailed reports are still pending.