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Hundreds Dead in Separatist Somaliland After Weeks of Violence

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A hospital director in a disputed city in the Somaliland region says at least 145 people have been killed in more than two months of fighting between anti-government fighters and Somaliland security forces after local elders declared their intention to unite Somalia.

More than 1,080 people have been infected and more than 100,000 families have fled from the city of Las-Anod since late December, Abdelmadjid Sogol, of the General Hospital in Las-Anod, told The Associated Press on Saturday. He said most civilians fled.

The director accused Somaliland forces of destroying the hospital laboratory, blood bank and patient ward with mortar attacks. “Somaliland forces stationed outside the town are bombing the civilian population and medical facilities indiscriminately,” he told the Associated Press by phone. “Not a single day goes by without shelling and casualties.”

However, some earlier reports claimed a higher death toll and the number of displaced people, reaching more than 200 dead and affecting more than 200,000 families.

“210 civilians were killed and 680 others injured in the fighting that broke out between Somaliland forces and the local community in Las Anod,” the disputed town’s mayor, Abdirahim Ali Ismail, said in a press conference on Thursday.

Somaliland’s Ministry of Defense denied hitting any hospital, and the government asserted that it was “continuingly committed” to the ceasefire it announced on 10 February.

The United Nations and international partners warned last month that “the indiscriminate bombing of civilians is unacceptable and must stop.”

Somaliland seceded from Somalia three decades ago and is seeking international recognition as an independent country. There has been a dispute between Somaliland and the Somali state of Puntland in the Las-Anod region for years, but the eastern city was under the control of Somaliland.

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