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A fifteen-year-old girl has accused Somaliland's secret service of shooting her and beating her unconscious as they tried to locate her employer – a supporter of a militia fighting to free the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn (SSC) districts from the autonomous region's control.
The SSC region has been the source of violent clashes between Puntland and Somaliland – which both lay claim to it – and has recently seen skirmishes between Somaliland forces and the SSC militia, particularly in and around Las Anod, Sool.
Ayan Salah was a housemaid for a man who was an outspoken critic of the Somaliland administration and a staunch supporter of the SSC militia. She says that on March 8, security officials shot her then beat her savagely when she was unable to tell them where her employer was.
"I was scared but I could not tell them where he (her boss) was since I didn't know where he was, I told them he went out earlier in the morning and didn't come back," she told Somalia Report from her hospital bed in Garowe Hospital. "One them pointed his gun at me and told me to tell his whereabouts or die. I only remember when a bullet hit my shoulder."
Ayan said one of the men who came for her was a well-known Somaliland official from Las Anod, and also said the 35-year-old man in the bed next to her – his head swathed in bandages – had been tortured in Las Anod by the same security services.
Calls to Somaliland officials in Las Anod for a response to the allegations went unanswered.
Ayan said that there was widespread support for the SSC militia in Las Anod.
"In Las Anod, SSC is very popular, residents always gather to show their support," she said.
However, observers say people in the region are split between staying with Somaliland, going with Puntland or going it alone. Somaliland claimed SSC when it broke away, but upon the formation of Puntland in 1998, tensions over who could rightfully claim the territory began to grow.