Somaliland forces fight with Puntland soldiers in Tukaraq
TUKARAQ, Somalia – Fierce gun fighting has broken out between Puntland and the break-away of Somaliland forces on Tuesday in disputed town of Tukaraq in Sool region, north of Somalia.
Tuesday’s clash flared up when heavily armed forces from Somaliland launched an ambush attack on bases manned by Puntland troops, a witness, Nune Mose Mohamed said.
Mohamed says heavy weaponries could be heard through the town.
“The clash has started earlier today. We heard heavy weaponries as both sides from Somaliland and Puntland are using heavy and slight weapons”, he said.
It is too early to say the exact figure of casualty resulted in the fighting.
In press conference, Puntland’s Minister of Information, Abdi Hersi Ali “Qarjab” said its troops had repulsed the attack, and warded off the surprise attack by the Somaliland armed forces.
Hersi claimed victory over the skirmish, accusing Somaliland administration of starting Tuesday’s fighting in north of Somalia.
Somaliland army chief, Nouh Osma’il said that its soldiers had pushed back of the Puntland forces, claiming victory over the clash.
He says the breakaway of Somaliland forces had captured several Puntland soldiers alive, adding that battle-wagons had also been taken away.
The latest clashes came days after UN’s envoy for Somalia, Michael Keating visited Hargeisa and Garowe towns and met with Somaliland and Puntland leaders to de-escalate the tension and avert bloodshed in Tukaraq town.
Mr. Keating urged Somaliland president Muse Bihi to withdraw its troops from Tukaraq, in a bid to return calmness in the town.
However, Puntland and Somaliland fought sporadic battles since 2002 over the control of disputed regions in northern Somalia.
With reporting by Abdirisak Mohamud Tuuryare from Mogadishu, Somalia