Toghdeer and Sahil regions, Somaliland, Somalia –
More clashes occurred between the Somaliland army and a newly announced anti-government rebel group on Sunday afternoon in Dari Mara, a village near the Ga’an Libaah mountain, which serves as the rebel base. Both sides had been close to each other for the past few days before the confrontation.
According to the rebel group’s spokesman, Ahmed Ali Haybe, the fighting lasted approximately one hour. When the Somaliland forces from the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), together with police officers deployed from Hargeisa, arrived at the scene, they were attacked by the rebel militia from several sides. Some reports indicate that the RRU commanding general has been killed, but this could not be independently confirmed.
The rebel group reported no losses, injuries, or fatalities during the battle. They mentioned that a car was burnt during the encounter.
Iskudar village fighting
In a previous incident in the early morning hours of Saturday, it was reported that the rebel militia captured the Iskudar village in the Togdheer region. The area is only 55 kilometres from Berbera, Somaliland’s main sea port. Heavy fighting between the rebel group and Somaliland forces reportedly occurred throughout the night.
The situation remains tense. Various sources have reported that Hargeisa residents are making bank runs and started lining up in front of the two main mobile bank operators, Telesom of Zaad mobile money and Telsom of Dahabshil. Due to the bank run, both bank systems are said to have been overwhelmed. However, these reports could not be verified with certainty.
Mysterious rebel group from Ga’an Libaah
So far, the rebel group has been referred to as the Ga’an Libaah forces or the Garhajis Liberation Front because it consists of members of the Garhajis sub-clan of the larger Isaaq clan. The group was allegedly organised and funded within less than four weeks and now comprises over 1,000 fully armed militiamen.
The front claims it is fighting for the liberation of clan territories and against Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi. They no longer hide their intentions of taking over territory within the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland. These territories would be along the Garhajis-inhabited areas.
The group’s leadership structure remains unclear. Only the group’s spokesman has provided occasional comments to a few journalists. It is believed that the group’s ultimate goal is to break out from Somaliland and join Somalia as a new federal member state (FMS). However, an official declaration that would confirm this narrative remains undisclosed.
Bihi: Militia not as threatening as portrayed on social media
President Bihi finally addressed the issue on Saturday when speaking at a forum dedicated to introducing a book about Ahmed Silanyo, a former Somaliland President. The President said that the Ga’an Libaah militias were not as threatening as portrayed on social media. Seemingly downplaying the situation, Mr Bihi reassured that “political rivalries always emerge during elections.”
Somaliland’s legislative House of Elders recently decided to extend the term of the current President by two years, effectively extending his total tenure to seven years. The decision arose from a dispute last year over the order in which elections should be held. The decision sparked outrage among Somaliland opposition.