Heavy fighting resumes near Somaliland – Puntland border town
lasa`anood(Sayruuq) – Troops from the breakaway northern Somalia territory of Somaliland and its neighboring Puntland state on Sunday fought their first serious battles in months in a flashpoint town near their borders, officials and residents said.
Military officials in Puntland claimed that Somaliland troops had tried to advance using battlewagons and foot soldiers beyond their current defense zones in Tukaraq, the scene of several battles in recent months in defiance of the fragile ceasefire between the two sides, sparking heavy clashes that residents said involved mortar shelling and intense gun battles that lasted for hours.
There was no immediate word on casualties.
However, officials said that the latest fighting, in which both sides used both heavy and light weapons, went far beyond the regular low-level skirmishing which has regularly overshadowed claims by officials from both sides that a negotiating period aimed at ending hostilities was in place.
According to residents in the rural mountainous border town, the clashes that began late on the afternoon ended almost three hours later without any negotiated truce.
Meanwhile, fears are being raised by residents in the border areas that fighting could resume at any given moment, given the fact that the two sides started receiving military reinforcements after the latest clashes.
The clashes come despite appeals from Somali leaders and the international community that called for an immediate ceasefire between the two warring two neighboring states that have long fought over control of disputed regions since 2002.
Tension had started to escalate in the border areas after Somaliland troops seized control of Tukaraq, a strategic town earlier this year followed by subsequent incursions by Puntland troops.