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UPDATE: Khatumo militias claimed they killed 86 Somaliland soldiers and captured more than 30 soldiers, according to militia leader Abdirisak Fanah who spoke to Somalia Report this evening.
At least six fighters were killed and more than ten were injured as the military of Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland fought against local militias that recently formed the new regional state of Khatumo in Fool-joogto village, 30km north of Buhodle district in Ayn region, on Thursday afternoon, locals said.
The fighting erupted when Somaliland forces attacked the militias’ bases on the outskirts of Fool-Joogto village, where the two sides fought more than one hour. Both sides used heavy gunfire, including artillery and machine guns.
“The fighting started at noon. I can confirm that six people were killed, including two from the militia and the others from Somaliland,” local resident Gurey Ahmed Adawe in Buhodle told Somalia Report, adding that the fighting effected the area and forced the residents to flee their homes.
“The local militias displayed two military vehicles which they captured from Somaliland as well as two Somaliland officers they took as prisoners,” he stated.
Ahmed Ali, a resident in Buhodle has told Somalia Report that the clash between the sides came only hours after a delegation from Khatumo visited the town.
"A high profile delegation from Khatumo State of Somalia arrived the town hours before Somaliland launched the attack. They wants to disrupt the unity of SSC people," he said referring the people in Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions which both Puntland and Somaliland claim as part of their territories.
Suldaan Mahad Saleban Roble, a traditional leader in Buhodle district, accused Somaliland forces of “massacring” the civilians of the SSC regions and forcing them to break away from Somalia.
“We belief in Somalism and we don’t want to break away from the other Somali regions, but SNM militias (the former name of Somaliland when they rebelled against Somalia's military government in the 1980s) want to force us to join them and divide Somalia, but they don’t know that the world of the dictator is over,” he said.
Roble urged the international community and the United Nations to intervene and vowed they will fight against Somaliland until they eradicate them from the SSC regions.
Tensions remain high in the three regions and residents are expecting fighting to erupt any moment as Somaliland is deploying more troops to the area. At the same time, the local militias are preparing for a massive battle against Somaliland.
No immediate comments were available from Somaliland authorities.
Recently, Darod sub-clan of Dhulbahante clan that reside the regions met in Taleh district and formed the new regional state of Katumo. Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, however, vowed he would never allow Somaliland to be divided.
Two weeks ago, Somaliland military forces failed to seize Buhodle and were forced to flee by the local militia.