MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somaliland, a self-declared state has deployed hundreds of soldiers into contested regions in the north of Somalia, a week after 800 of its soldiers defected to the neighboring state of Puntland.
The fresh soldiers were dispatched into Yube, Hadaftimo Damal and other areas of Sanag and Sool regions in a presidential decree issued by Somaliland leader Mouse Bihi.
Mr. Bihi ordered his military forces to arrest senior commanders leading 800 of its soldiers who defected to Puntland state last week.
The tension between the two neighboring states has been building up in Sanaag region, Somalia’s second largest region.
The tension has escalated last month as the two neighboring states started deploying armed forces into Hadaftimo town in the region.
The two states are engaged in a perilous standoff over long-contested areas in the region after repeated deadly clashes since 2018.
Both sides are using incendiary rhetoric, are massing forces in the contested areas, sources said.
Residents in the town fear the current hostilities could escalate into a full-scale war that will have political, economic and security impact on both Puntland and Somaliland.
A longstanding military standoff between Somaliland and Puntland over the disputed Sanaag region is in grave danger of escalating.
It would likely herald a protracted conflict with devastating consequences for northern Somalia and the potential to fuel further instability across Somalia.
Somaliland and Puntland have enjoyed relative peace and stability for nearly three decades as war plagued the rest of Somalia.
Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 and operates as an independent state but has not won international recognition.