Spot Report: Renewed Conflict in Somaliland Over Las Anod by Emily Levinson

International concern is growing amid renewed violence in Las Anod, a disputed town in the autonomous Somali region of Somaliland. Tensions began rising between the Somaliland government and local clan forces in Las Anod in December 2022 when a local opposition leader, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi, was killed by unknown attackers. His death sparked anti-government protests, during which Somaliland’s security forces allegedly killed at least 20 civilians and injured dozens more.

The conflict escalated in early February after Dhulbahante clan elders in three Somaliland regions – including Sool, which contains Las Anod – announced that they wanted to form their own federal state under Somalia. Since the fighting began, over a hundred people have been killed and hundreds have been injured.

Additionally, over 185,000 civilians have been displaced, including over 60,000 who became refugees in Ethiopia, which is itself grappling with humanitarian crises brought on by civil war and intense drought. A ceasefire implemented on 10 February attempted to bring a quick end to the violence; however, each side accused the other of violating the agreement, and it failed to hold.

On 16 February, Somaliland President Muse Bihi said he had initiated peace talks with the Dhulbahante elders. However, these elders demanded the withdrawal of Somaliland troops from Las Anod as a condition for these talks to take place. Instead, the violence has increased, with a medical facility in Las Anod reportedly coming under fire on 28 February. Greater attention from the international community is needed to support the initiation of peace talks, as well as the long-term implementation of any agreement eventually reached.