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Somaliland Will Close Its Borders, By Peace Or War
Hargeysa/Garowe, Oct 6, 2007 – The defense minister of the republic of Somaliland repeated on Friday that Somaliland troops were in control of Las Anod, a disputed town in Sool region.
Abdillahi Ali Ibrahim, the Somaliland defense minister, told a VOA Somali Service interview yesterday that a group of pro-Puntland militias were routed out of Las Anod by Somaliland forces.
"The groups that fought there [Las Anod] are not groups who support the two administrations [Somaliland and Puntland] but a group that supports Majertenia [Puntland] whom the locals were complaining about ...and our troops," Ibrahim said, using a clan term to describe Puntland.
He argued that there are no Puntland troops in Las Anod, but "only civilians" affiliated with the Puntland administration.
Minister Ibrahim said the Somaliland government is fighting for the self determination of the people of Sool region, whom he said were under attack from Puntland on every front.
"Forgery [currency] is made in Garowe to hurt Las Anod economically," he said, referring to false Shillings printed locally that hurt the Puntland economy as whole in recent months.
But Mr. Ibrahim's uttered his strongest words yet when asked Somaliland's ultimate goal.
"Our plan is to close the Somaliland border, by peace or war," he said.
His account was dismissed as "propaganda" by Mohamed "Gaagaab" Ali, the Puntland minister of finance.
Mr. Gaagaab said he and several Puntland Cabinet ministers are presently in Las Anod "conducting work as usual."
He said the city was peaceful and under the full control of Puntland security forces.
" Somaliland troops are still in the same location as before," Gaagaab said during the VOA interview, referring to an area roughly 20km northwest of Las Anod.
He said there were reports that many Puntland soldiers had been captured during gun battles between Puntland and Somaliland troops last Monday.
"We are missing six men but they [Somaliland] claim to have captured 24," Mr. Gaagaab said.
He said Somaliland's claim on Sool region is based on maps designed by colonialists.
"This land belongs to a people who have lived here for thousands of years and who will defend it. Colonialists cannot give you land," Mr. Gaagaab argued.
Somaliland and Puntland have kept their armies opposite each other in parts of Sool region since 2003 when Abdillahi Yusuf’s militia took control of Las Anod.